DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RELEASES FIRST NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR CHILD EXPLOTATION PREVENTION AND INTERDICTION
U.S. Marshals Service to Launch Nationawide Operation Targeting
Top 500 Most Dangerous, Non-compliant Sex Offenders
Spokane – Following an announcement today by Attorney General Eric Holder, James A. McDevitt, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that the Department of Justice released its first ever National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. The strategy also provides the first ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation, and sexual exploitation in Indian Country, and outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes. The strategy builds upon the department’s accomplishments in combating child exploitation by establishing specific, aggressive goals and priorities and increasing cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government and the private sector.
As part of the overall strategy, the U.S. Marshals Service is launching a nationwide operation targeting the top 500 most dangerous, non-compliant sex offenders in the nation. Additionally, the department will create a national database to allow federal, state, tribal, local and international law enforcement partners to deconflict their cases with each other, engage in undercover operations from a portal facilitated or hosted by the database, share information and intelligence and conduct analysis on dangerous offenders and future threats and trends. The department also created 38 additional Assistant U.S. Attorney positions to devote to child exploitation cases, and over the coming months will work to fill the vacancies and train the new assistants in this specialized area.
“Although we’ve made meaningful progress in protecting children across the country, and although we’ve brought a record number of offenders to justice in recent years, it is time to renew our commitment to this work. It is time to intensify our efforts,” said Attorney General Holder. “This new Strategy provides the roadmap necessary to do just that – to streamline our education, prevention and prosecution activities; to improve information sharing and collaboration; and to make the most effective use of limited resources. Together, we are sending an important message – that the U.S. government, and our nation’s Department of Justice, has never been more committed to protecting our children and to bringing offenders to justice.”
James A. McDevitt added, “The Internet offers a wealth of opportunities to communicate, socialize, and explore the world, but these benefits come with certain risks. This office continues to partner with ESD 101 and NetSmartz to educate our vulnerable youth. Let there be no mistake, we also continue to partner with law enforcement agencies; the FBI, ICE, the Postal Service, and our state and local law enforcement partners, to investigate and prosecute these reprehensible crimes."
The strategy first analyzed the threat to our nation’s children and described the current efforts at all levels of the government against this threat. Since FY 2006, the Department of Justice has filed 8,464 Project Safe Childhood (PSC) cases against 8,637 defendants. These cases include prosecutions of online enticement of children to engage in sexual activity, interstate transportation of children to engage in sexual activity, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, and other offenses.
In May of this year, the United States Attorney’s Office, in partnership with NorthEast Washington Educational Service District (ESD) 101, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), NetSmartz and Microsoft provided free resources for parents, children and educators regarding Internet safety, as part of the Take 25 Event sponsored by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department at the Spokane Valley Mall. One of the free resources was a new guide from the FTC called Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online. Net Cetera explains to parents and their children how to deal with issues such as social networking, cyberbullying, using mobile phones safely, and protecting the family computer from badware. The booklet is practical, plain-language, and value-neutral, so all parents – regardless of whether they are technologically savvy – can use it to help their kids make better decisions about online behavior. It is the most recent addition to the OnGuardOnline.gov consumer education campaign, which helps people guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers, and protect their privacy.
The FTC has also partnered with NorthEast Washington Educational Service District (ESD) 101 and the U.S. Attorney’s Office on a pilot program for Washington schools that will begin in the summer of 2010 using the Net Cetera guide. Over the past few years, ESD 101's Ed Tech Support Center, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney's Office has been providing resources, presentations and train-the-trainer sessions for educators. Now, in conjunction with the FTC, we will be facilitating the distribution of Net Cetera to schools throughout Washington.
Despite vigorously fighting all aspects of child exploitation, the department recognized that more work remains to be done. To that end, the department’s strategy lays out goals to increase coordination among the nation’s investigators, better train investigators and prosecutors, advance law enforcement’s technological capabilities and enhance research to inform decisions on deterrence, incarceration and monitoring. The strategy also includes a renewed commitment to public awareness and community outreach.
As part of its public outreach efforts, the department is re-launching ProjectSafeChildhood.gov, the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) public website. PSC is a department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information regarding the National Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation, Prevention and Interdiction, please visit: www.projectsafechildhood.gov/docs/natstrategyreport.pdf