Best-selling author John Grisham is under fire today for remarks in which he implied that some child sex offenders face punishments that too harsh.
He’s now backtracking as fast as humanly possible.
In a wide-ranging interview on the U.S. judicial system with The Telegraph (UK), Grisham said judges have “gone crazy” over the past 30 years.
By this he means that they’re locking up too many people, from white collar criminals to minorities on minor drug charges, and even those who view child porn.
“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who’ve never harmed anybody, would never touch a child,” he said.
“But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”
Grisham, who is promoting his new book Gray Mountain, added, “These people haven’t hurt anybody. They deserve some punishment, but 10 years in prison?”
He went on to share the story of a friend from law school who was caught in a “sting” operation and served time in prison for downloading child pornography.
“His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labeled ’16-year-old wannabe hookers’ or something like that’ … So he went there.”
“Downloaded some stuff … it was 16-year-old girls who looked 30. He shouldn’t have done it. It was stupid, but it wasn’t 10-year-old boys.”
“He didn’t touch anything. And, God, a week later there was a knock on the door.”
“‘FBI!’ [It was all a sting] set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people – sex offenders – and he went away to prison for three years.”
“I have no sympathy for real pedophiles,” he added, “God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences.”
After the obligatory backlash hit, Grisham said in a statement:
“Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography – online or otherwise – should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“My comments… were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children.”
“I can think of nothing more despicable,” the novelist added, and concluded, “I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all.”
While Grisham’s words might have been poorly chosen and timed, this sounds more like a broader commentary on the penal system than, say, Stephen Collins.
Read the rest here:
John Grisham Apologizes For Suggesting Child Porn Offenders Deserve Lesser Punishments