Suggestion 5

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
7

Suggestion 5:

Community action organizations can communicate with law enforcement officials and prosecutors about the pornography in their jurisdiction.

Citizens and community action organizations should determine whether laws relating to obscenity are being adequately enforced in their area. Officials should be alerted to violations of laws relating to obscenity and unlawful sexual activity within their [jurisdiction].

The section below entitled Police contains a detailed series of questions concerning (1) investigations conducted, complaints filed and arrests made, (2) indictments, prosecutions and convictions, (3) citizen complaints, (4) problems faced by law enforcement officials and (5) law enforcement priorities, which can be used when discussing the pornography issue with any law enforcement agency official.

Questions For Law Enforcement Agencies

  1. Police.

    If it appears that inadequate police resources are being devoted to enforcement of obscenity and pornography-related laws, citizens should meet with police officials and voice their concern. The following questions may serve as a foundation for an analysis of the police role in enforcing laws in this area.

    1. In the past year, how many obscenity and pornography-related complaints were filed with the police department? How many actual investigations were conducted? How many obscenity and pornography-related arrests did the department make? Did those arrests involve child pornography? Did the arrests involve adult obscenity violations? Other? Did those arrests evolve as a result of investigation or through some other circumstance?
    2. How many obscenity and pornography-related cases did the police department present to the local prosecutor for prosecution during the preceding year? How many cases have been presented to the local prosecutor for prosecution in the current year? How many of the cases did the prosecutor present for indictment? What type of cases were these? How many cases did the prosecutor decline to prosecute? What types of cases were these? What was the basis for the prosecutor's decision not to prosecute these cases?
    3. In what types of cases have obscenity convictions been obtained in past year? Of the cases prosecuted, how many resulted in convictions? Of the convictions obtained, how many resulted in incarceration? How many resulted in fines? In how many cases was the charge reduced by negotiation?
    4. How many citizens' complaints concerning pornography were received in the preceding year? How many in the current year"? What action was taken on these complaints?
    5. What problems do the law enforcement agents encounter in making obscenity and pornography-related arrests? What problems do law enforcement agents face in presenting these cases for prosecution?
    6. What is the police department's general policy concerning obscenity and pornography-related law enforcement? What does the police department perceive as the community standard?

     

  2. Local Prosecutor

    The local prosecutor may be the district, county, city, state or commonwealth's attorney, depending upon the jurisdiction. Community action groups should arrange a meeting with their local prosecutor and express their interest in the pornography problem in their area. The line of questions listed under Police above should provide a framework for questions for the local prosecutor. Citizens should specifically inquire about the prosecutor's assessment of the community standard in their area and the basis for the opinion.

     

  3. United States Attorney.

    Violations of federal obscenity laws should be referred to the United States Attorney in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred. The Office of the United States Attorney is a division of the United States Department of justice and is guided in its prosecutorial decision making by Departmental Guidelines. Prosecutorial priorities are established on the basis of the United States Attorney's assessment of a particular problem in his or her district. If pornography appears to be a major concern in a geographical area, the United States Attorney should be made aware of the severity of the problem. The United States Attorney, upon confirmation of this fact, should contact the other members of the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (LECC's) in his or her jurisdiction[1637] to devise a coordinated approach to this problem.

    In addition to those questions suggested under Police, the following are a list of questions which community action leaders might wish to ask the United States Attorney:

    1. How many obscenity cases were referred to the office of the United States Attorney by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Customs Service, United States Postal Inspection Service or Federal Communications Commission during the past five years?
    2. How many of those cases were prosecuted?
    3. In how many cases was organized crime a factor?
    4. How many citizens' complaints concerning obscenity were referred to the United States Attorney's office during the past five years for investigation by (1) The Postal Investigation Service when the United States mails were used illegally to send obscene material, (2) The United States Customs Service when the importation of obscene material was involved, (3) The Federal Bureau of Investigation where interstate transportation of obscene material was involved, or (4) The Federal Communications Commission where violations pertaining to cable pornography, obscene or indecent broadcasting or dial-a-porn were involved?

     

  4. Local Offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Customs Service.

    The local offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Customs Service are the investigatory arms of the federal government for obscenity violations. Pornographic materials found in the community which may violate federal obscenity laws should be referred to these agencies for further investigation. These agencies should then refer all confirmed violations of federal law to the United States Attorney for prosecution, or may if appropriate, be referred to the local or state prosecutor. Community action organizations may wish to visit the local offices of these agencies and inquire about the level of obscenity enforcement in their area.

Notes

  1. See, The discussion in Recommendations for Law Enforcement Agencies about LECC's.