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This may not sound unreasonable: By collecting images of exploited children, Brown actively participated in their abuse. Did the offender have a prior history of abusing children? Did he use peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to distribute criminal material?

All told, the average punishment for possessing child porn was a little less than eight years in 2010. That seems a little odd when you read the details of his case.

While he did possess several hundred images of child porn, including those with BDSM content, many were saved to floppy disks, so they were not easily viewed or distributed to others.

All these factors would seem to mitigate his risk to the community.

For criminals in his category, the recidivism rate is very low, and the federal sentencing guidelines for child porn—which are themselves notoriously inflated—would have allowed for a five-year sentence, with a recommended range of 6.5 to eight. He wasn’t your run-of-the-mill pedophile, collecting photos of naked children.

On Wednesdays a ventriloquist and puppeteer named Ronald W.

Brown would have some children over to his trailer home in Largo, Fla., for a pizza party, then he’d put them in a van and drive to church.

Other nights he’d do his act on a Christian-themed TV show called , sometimes warning kids against the dangers of “dirty pictures.” (In one broadcast he told his dummy alter ego Marty to “run away from anything that will give you evil thoughts.”) But when police officers and federal agents busted into Brown’s trailer last summer, they found that he wasn’t following his own advice.There were pictures of naked boys on his computer, and more on a CD in his sock drawer.Some children in the pictures were bound and gagged, and others appeared to be deceased.A few weeks ago, Brown was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for each of the charges against him: three counts of possessing child pornography and five counts of receiving it.Some of the sentences will run concurrently, and in total Brown will spend 20 years behind bars. District Court in Tampa had less to do with what Brown actually did—soliciting child porn—than what he How much time should Brown have gotten?After that, he’ll be registered as a sex offender, denied access to the Internet, and forbidden from having any contact with a minor. The penalties for possessing child porn vary widely from one case to the next, and depend on specific aspects of the crime: What kind of pictures were involved, and how many were there?