NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Juveniles sharing explicit pictures over the internet has long been a concern for parents, educators and law enforcement, but this past legislative session it became a key concern of state lawmakers who passed a carefully crafted bill dealing with the issue.
Many of the lawmakers always said they had to do something, but it would not be right to treat the juveniles as adults.
Sharing or spreading explicit pictures over the internet is a sensitive topic in any quarter and a felony if you are an adult–unless its consenting, so what do you do with those who are under 18 years of age who may not fully understand the consequences of what they are doing?
Republican Leader Glen Casada, who sponsored the bill in the House, spoke of the people who came to him about the issue.
“It literally has ruined people’s lives,” Casada said. “The district attorneys of Tennessee felt like a felony charge was too steep of a charge for a minor on something like this.”
As a former prosecutor, state representative William Lamberth knew the dilemma first hand facing DAs about kids sharing explicit pictures–if they were treated as adults.
“These children don’t need to be sex offenders for life,” the lawmaker said. “They don’t need to go to prison for lengthy prison terms, but they need to be held accountable. Its wrong to send those types of pictures.
Working with those district attorneys across the state, lawmakers like Casada and Lamberth made sure such cases of kids sharing explicit pictures would stay in juvenile court, but with conditions keeping them out of jail.
“There are ways now that a judge can sentence a minor to counseling, to rehabilitation, things of that nature, to turn these young people around.” added the Republican leader.
Lawmakers, prosecutors and parents will be watching to see if that happens with the new law.
Prosecutors say they expect parents or school administrators to alert them about possible offenses.