Can a man be given unlimited prison time without being convicted of a crime? I know that a child pornographer is about the least sympathetic kind of person, half a step removed from a child molester or pedophile.
But you need to set that natural prejudice aside and look at the core issue at hand: Can the government throw someone in prison for an INDEFINITE period without any conviction for refusing to provide self incriminating evidence?
US federal prosecutors urged a federal appeals court late Monday to keep a child-porn suspect behind bars—where he already has been for seven months—until he unlocks two hard drives that the government claims contains kid smut.
The suspect, a Philadelphia police sergeant relieved of his duties, has refused to unlock two hard drives and has been in jail ever since a judge ordered him to do so seven months ago—and after finding him in contempt of court. The defendant can remain locked up until a judge lifts the contempt order.
The government said Monday he should remain jailed indefinitely until he complies. The authorities also said that it’s not a violation of the man’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination because it’s a “foregone conclusion” that illegal porn is on the drives, and that he is only being asked to unlock the drives, not divulge their passcodes.
The 5th Amendment contains no “foregone conclusion” assumption. Neither does the 4th. In my opinion it is the judge here who is in contempt: OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Until they have the evidence there is no “foregone conclusion” of anything. Refusing to open up a hard drive to let the government is evidence of nothing.
The man’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Keith Donoghue, is demanding that the appeals court immediately release his client from prison because he is being “held without charges.” (PDF)
Investigators say they know child porn is on the drives. His sister saw some of it and the suspect is said to have shown his family an illicit video, too.
Seems to me that the precedent this sets is far more dangerous to children than child porn.
The federal government can use the resources of the NSA to crack the encryption on physical hard drives. Seems to me that the prosecutor and judge in this case thinks that it’s fine to violate the Constitution for a matter of convenience.
And if they have a witness who SAW the child porn in the man’s possession, why do they need to decrypt the hard drives?
Because like the Apple cases in California and New York this has nothing to do with the crime in question it all has to do with setting a precedent that making data inaccessible to the federal government is itself a crime. That the government is using the two least sympathetic types of criminal acts: terrorism and child pornography makes this a foregone conclusion. Government is trying to use public sentiment and emotion to make us SURRENDER our UNALIENABLE rights.
Perversion of the Constitution is worse than child porn and terrorism. Combined.