Hernandez pled guilty to one count of having received images captured in a computer screenshot of child pornography, for which he faced an advisory Guidelines range of imprisonment of between 97 and 121 months. He was sentenced to a 5 years imprisonment (the mandatory minimum). Why?
A sentence of 5 years' imprisonment is unnecessarily cruel in the circumstances. The sentence overstates the seriousness of the crime; it is more than necessary to serve the purpose of sentencing. Prison will only harm the defendant and will do nothing to protect society. The defendant requires treatment and supervision outside of prison.
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The case constitutes a tragedy resulting from a mandatory minimum and the decision of the U.S. Attorney to charge the defendant for receipt of child pornography, rather than under a more apt statute that would permit treatment outside of prison, the development of a useful life for the defendant, and huge cost savings for taxpayers. In light of the statutory minimum, there is nothing this court can do to ease the injustice of the sentence imposed.
This decision reminds me of Judge Gleeson's decision in United States v. Vasquez, in which he criticized not only the mandatory minimum sentencing scheme but also the U.S. Attorney's charging decision.