Sheriffs want to use asset money to fight crimes against children

Agencies would be able to seize and sell assets as they do in drug-related crimes

Law enforcement agencies would be able to seize and sell assets used in the commission of crimes related to child pornography or enticement in the same way they are able to do so for drug-related crimes, under a bill supported by some of the state's sheriffs.

Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald testified Tuesday in favor of a bill (H 1148) filed by Rep. James Arciero that would also allow law enforcement agencies to sell the seized property and invest the proceeds to pay for Internet safety programs, victim rehabilitation or therapy, or for further investigation of similar crimes.

"Massachusetts authorities can already obtain warrants and seize cameras, computers, cell phones, vehicles used by perpetrators in child pornography and enticement cases, but this legislation would allow prosecutors at the conviction of the case, with the court's permission, to dispose of the seized property and generate funds that could be put into three narrowly tailored areas," Koutoujian told the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

"Quite honestly, I don't know that there is going to be a great deal of money that is made throughout these seizures. But I do know that it will go to very good things, things that are necessary."

McDonald said computers and cell phones would likely make up the "vast majority" of assets seized and sold, though the law would also allow the seizure and sale of motor vehicles.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that one in seven children who use the Internet regularly will be subject to unwanted sexual solicitations online.


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