Preview: News from Senator Bill Diamond-District 12
News from Senator Bill Diamond-District 12
News from Senator Bill Diamond
Copyright: Copyright 2016 All rights reserved.
New Rules Announced at Conference to Prohibit Texting While Driving, Says Diamond
Wed, 22 Sep 2010 10:35:22 EDT
##New rules ban commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job and restrict train operators from using cell phones##
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, reported from Washington, D.C. Tuesday that a number of new rules went into effect to stop texting while driving. The rules complement efforts at the federal and state level to tackle what is becoming an epidemic on our roads as more drivers with mobile phones increase their use of texting, emailing, and Internet usage while driving.
Senator Diamond attended the national Distracted Driving Summit in Washington for the second year in a row, and said that there has been a tidal wave of both awareness and action to this growing problem. "At last year's conference, only seven states had adopted bans on texting while driving. Now, 30 states have banned texting while driving."
The 2010 Distracted Driving Summit brought with it the announcement of some major changes that will have an impact on roads and rail lines across the country. New rules banning commercial bus and truck drivers from texting on the job and restricting train operators from using cell phones and other electronic devices while in the driver's seat were announced at the Summit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Senator Diamond added that the effort to prevent distracted driving is happening at all levels of government and in the private sector as well. According to the USDOT and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety almost 1,600 U.S. companies and organizations have adopted distracted driving policies to date, covering approximately 10.5 million workers nationwide. An additional 550 organizations have committed to adopting policies that will cover another 1.5 million employees within the next 12 months.
Last year the federal government announced rules prohibiting all of its workers using government vehicles or doing business on government time from texting while driving. The United Nations issued a similar ban for its workers, which impacts 40,000 vehicles on the road.
Senator Diamond said that the although he is taking action to ban texting while driving in Maine; Municipalities, school boards, businesses, and other local governments may be interested in adopting their own rules and ordinances to prevent texting while driving while legislation at the state level is pending.
"There is a lot of action that can be taken right now by school boards and local governments to prevent texting while driving," Senator Diamond said. "What we are talking about here is changing newly learned bad habits and behaviors, and new rules can have a big impact."
Senator Diamond added that he learned from the conference that nationally 6,000 lives are lost annually and over 500,000 injuries occur from distracted driving.
To help raise awareness about his legislation, Senator Diamond has launched a Facebook Page entitled, "Ban Texting While Driving in Maine."
More information about the Summit can be found at www.distraction.gov.
Senator Diamond Submits Proposal to Ban Texting While Driving
Tue, 31 Aug 2010 10:44:30 EDT
AUGUSTA-Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, has introduced a bill to ban texting while driving. The proposed legislation follows the passage of a law in the 124th Legislative Session to establish a distracted driver law, which was also sponsored by Senator Diamond.
Commenting on the proposal, Senator Diamond said, "Evidence continues to grow that as mobile phone technology expands, more and more people are taking advantage of options like texting, emailing, and Internet browsing. Unfortunately, the statistics and surveys all demonstrate that drivers are taking advantage of these mobile texting and Internet technologies while operating a vehicle."
One study, Senator Diamond points out, suggests that 81 percent of drivers admit using cell phones while driving.
According to a recent AAA Survey, one in seven drivers admitted to text messaging while driving. Another study by Safe Kids USA, found that one in every six motorists driving through a school zone was visibly distracted as a result of either using a mobile phone for talking or texting.
"While Maine took a big step forward passing a distracted driver law in 2009, it is clear to me now that measure deals more with the EFFECT. The proposed ban on texting while driving I have put forward deals better with the CAUSE of the problem," Senator Diamond added.
In a recent AAA/ Seventeen Magazine survey almost nine in 10 teenage drivers (86%) admitted to driving while distracted. Although young drivers are most at risk they are not alone. "The announcement of Senator Diamond's sponsorship of this important traffic safety measure is timely as many young Maine motorists prepare to start a new school year," Pat Moody director of public affairs AAA Northern New England said.
"The activity of texting while driving is inherently dangerous for all drivers and this is an excellent opportunity to remind Maine teen drivers, that it is illegal to text while driving until you have reached 18 years of age," Mr. Moody added.
As a former Maine Secretary of State, Senator Diamond said he has worked to improve a number of laws affecting driver safety. Senator Diamond became involved with this issue when he attended the U.S. Department of Transportation Distracted Driver Summit sponsored by Secretary Ray LaHood in September of 2009. At that time, seven states had passed laws banning texting while driving. Today, more than 30 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws addressing this dangerous behavior.
Close to home, New Hampshire's texting ban became effective Jan 1, 2010, Vermont's texting ban became effective June 1, 2010, and Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a bill into law that will become effective in October.
Senator Diamond plans to attend this year's invitational "Distracted Driving Summit," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation on September 14th in Washington, D.C. to learn more about what other states have been doing.
Senator Diamond said he has launched a Facebook Page entitled "Ban Texting While Driving in Maine" to help promote the legislation and issue.
Senator Diamond's Distracted Driver Bill Closer to Becoming Law
Wed, 24 Jun 2009 09:48:53 EDT
AUGUSTA- The long awaited LD 6, An Act to Establish a Distracted Driver Law, sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond, (D-Cumberland County) passed in the Maine Senate yesterday. This bill was recently voted out of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation with a unanimous ought to pass as amended vote.
LD 6 makes failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle due to driving distracted a traffic infraction. It defines the term "distracted" as driving while engaged in an activity that is not necessary to operate your vehicle and that impairs your ability drive safely.
"This bill is a little broader than just addressing cell phone use while driving," Diamond explained. "It takes into consideration eating while driving, putting on make-up, reaching into the backseat; doing something that takes your concentration off the road and could potentially cause an accident. It doesn't make these actions illegal, as long as the driver isn't distracted, but it will make drivers pay more attention."
Senator Diamond sponsored this legislation as a result of an incident on the turnpike last summer, when a state trooper saw a woman driving through the toll booths during the 4th of July weekend while watching the "Gilmore Girls" on her laptop. The trooper issued a warning, but not a fine because there was no specific law that had been violated.
"Current Maine law specifically mentions certain actions which are prohibited while driving, such as driving while under the influence, smoking with passengers younger than 16 years of age present, or using a cell phone while driving if the driver is under 18 years old. This new law will avoid trying to list each and every activity which could potentially be a distraction to a driver. It simply says that a driver must be in control of the vehicle at all times."
LD 6 will come before the Maine House of Representatives for a vote today. Upon passage in the House, it will return to the Senate for enactment and then will be sent down to the Governor to be signed into law.
-- 30 --
Maine Senate Passes Diamond's Legislation to Address Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Fri, 15 May 2009 09:55:33 EDT
AUGUSTA- LD 550, An Act to Protect Maine Residents from Home Fires and Carbon Monoxide, sponsored by Senator Bill Diamond, (D-Cumberland County) was unanimously passed in the Maine Senate today.
LD 550, An Act to Protect Maine Residents from Home Fires and Carbon Monoxide, calls for the installation of carbon monoxide detectors and more efficient smoke detectors in any building that is being converted into a single family dwelling in Maine, in single family homes and apartment buildings that are being renovated, as well as to single family homes that are being added on to and to rental units.
"Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that you can't see, smell or taste. Every year Maine citizens die as a result of this deadly gas. The passage of this bill will help greatly in the prevention carbon monoxide poisoning," Diamond said. "There is nothing more important than the safety of Maine people."
Nationally, carbon monoxide kills about 450 people every year. In Maine, approximately 150 people are taken to the emergency room or hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
LD 550 will come before the Maine House of Representatives for a vote later this week. If it passes in the House, it will be sent down for the Governor's signature, making it a law.
-- 30 --
Windham 2nd Graders Receive Legislative Sentiment
Fri, 15 May 2009 09:53:57 EDT
AUGUSTA-Today, 21 second graders from the Windham Primary School were presented with a legislative sentiment by the Maine Senate commending their kindness to animals and for working together to raise nearly $1,000 to give to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals.
Senator Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland County), sponsor of the sentiment, Representative Mark Bryant (D-Windham) and Representative Gary Plummer (R-Windham) met with the students of Mrs. Kelly Rich's class at the State House. The children also had the opportunity to meet with Governor John Baldacci, to tell him about the many abused or neglected animals rescued by Maine law enforcement agents and placed at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals (MSSPA) in Windham.
"The students in Mrs. Rich's class have shown such great compassion for the abused and neglected animals that are cared for by the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals," Senator Diamond said. "I am tremendously proud of these children. Mrs. Rich was very instrumental in this successful project and I want to thank her for her personal effort."
In late 2008, following a field trip to the MSSPA farm, the students and their families raised nearly $1,000 for Society animals. The non-profit MSSPA, which functions as Maine's largest animal shelter, is a public charity and receives no public funding. All of the organization's more than one million-dollar annual budget must be raised each year.
Students collected bottles, did extra chores at home, a Brownie Scout Troop held a bake sale, and with help from local screen printer, Bob Baiguy, owner of Bob the Screen Printer in Windham, the class made and sold their own tie-dyed MSSPA t-shirts, all to contribute to the care of the nearly 90 rescued horses at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals.
Maine, like other states, has experienced an increase in the number of animals being abandoned, starved, or neglected during the current economic crisis. FMI about the Society, please visit www.msspa.org.
George E. Jack Student Among Winners of Governor's Energy Savings Tip Contest
Fri, 01 May 2009 11:20:09 EDT
AUGUSTA - Fifth grader, Samantha Richard of Standish was among the winners of Efficiency Maine's sixth Annual Energy Savings Tip Contest.
Sponsored by the Maine Public Utilities Commission's Efficiency Maine program and the Governor's Office of Energy Independence and Security, the contest kicked off Energy Awareness Month back in October and looked to gather energy savings ideas from fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
On Wednesday, December 10, Samantha and five other students were honored by Governor John E. Baldacci at his office in the State House. Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, attended the award ceremony to celebrate Samantha's achievement.
"It is inspiring to see our students come up with clever and resourceful ideas for saving energy at home and in their schools. Samantha's tip is a low cost, easy to implement idea. I am very proud of her," Senator Diamond said.
Samantha's award-winning tip was to ask the school janitor to install programmable thermostats in classrooms that could be turned down at night and on weekends when the school is empty. She was presented with an iPod Shuffle music player and a solar-powered charger as a prize.
Maine Senator Proposes Carbon Monoxide Legislation
Fri, 01 May 2009 11:18:56 EDT
AUGUSTA, ME- Senator Bill Diamond, (D-Cumberland County) has proposed legislation to address the issue of carbon monoxide poisonings in Maine.
"Currently, Maine does not have a law in place that deals with carbon monoxide detectors and our law pertaining to smoke alarms has not been updated in 11 years," Senator Diamond remarked. "Maine and New Hampshire are the only two states in New England who have not made carbon monoxide detectors a legislative priority."
LD 550, An Act to Protect Maine Residents from Home Fires and Carbon Monoxide, calls for the installation of carbon monoxide detectors and more efficient smoke detectors in any building that is being converted into a single family dwelling in Maine, in single family homes and apartment buildings that are being renovated, as well as to single family homes that are being added on to and to rental units
"The more I looked into this issue, I realized that more needed to be done in regards to prevention," Diamond explained "I recognized a great opportunity to help when the Professional Firefighters of Maine asked me to sponsor this bill"
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas found in combustion fumes, such as those produced by cars and trucks, stoves, gas ranges and heating systems. The gas is odorless, tasteless and colorless, making it difficult for people to know that it's there until it's too late. Nationally, carbon monoxide kills about 200 people every year. In Maine, approximately 150 people are taken to the emergency room or hospitalized due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
"By initiating the installation of these detectors, my hope is to promote awareness of how easy it is to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and to keep Maine residents safe." Diamond said.
LD 550 will come before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for a public hearing at the Maine State House on Monday, March 2, 2009 at 10:00 am.
Senator Bill Diamond and the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Set Bi-Partisan Tone with a Unanimous Vote on 2009 Budget
Fri, 01 May 2009 11:17:49 EDT
AUGUSTA- Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, Senate Chair of the Legislature's Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is pleased to announce the completion of the committee's work on the state's FY 2009 budget, last Friday.
"This was a monumental task. Many said our goal to have the budget voted out of committee by January 23rd was ambitious, but we did it. The Appropriations Committee passed this budget in record time and with bi-partisan support," Senator Bill Diamond said.
With the loud crack of his gavel, Senator Diamond ended the final Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee work session on Maine's 2009 budget with a unanimous committee vote, successfully closing a budget gap that grew from $155 million to $166 million.
"The Committee was determined to balance these cuts across state government, making all departments sacrifice." Diamond explained, "We were able to come to a consensus and make the significant cuts that were required."
Some of the major provisions of the 2009 budget include reducing funding to Maine schools by $27 million, reducing the Department of Health and Human Services budget by $34 million, utilizing $56 million from the state's Rainy Day Fund and cutting the Legislature's budget by $1.6 million. These recommendations from the Committee will be considered by the full Legislature on Tuesday.
The Appropriations Committee must now focus its attention on the proposed $6.1 billion budget for the two year cycling starting July 1, 2009 and will be facing nearly $1 billion in cuts and reductions.
Senator Bill Diamond Appointed to Serve as Senate Chair of the Legislature's Appropriations Committee
Fri, 01 May 2009 11:15:45 EDT
AUGUSTA-State Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, has been appointed to serve as the Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee for the 124th Maine Legislature. The appointment was made today by Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell, who said, "Bill's years of legislative service and understanding of the budget process will be invaluable during this difficult session. I look forward to working with him as we begin the difficult work of balancing the budget in a way that creates greater opportunity for all Maine people."
Senator Diamond "In this coming session, unlike any other in recent memory, the legislature must focus on finding an acceptable way to close the $832 M projected budget gap. As Senate Chair of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, I will do all I can to lead the committee to meet the tremendous challenge which lies ahead of us," Senator Diamond said.
As Secretary of State, Diamond ran the 400 employee agency for 8 years. He served three terms in the House of Representatives, where he not only served in a leadership role, but also as a member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee. Senator Diamond previously served two terms in the Senate and is currently serving his third consecutive term in the Maine Senate.
"I've seen some very difficult times in state government in the past. The people of Maine expect us to work in a bipartisan manner to solve the budget crisis and they expect us to present a balanced budget without major tax increases. I'm confident that Democrats and Republicans will work together; we will get through the difficult time that lies ahead. We have the experience, the knowledge and the ability to meet this challenge and I'm confident we will," Diamond added.
Senator Diamond was sworn into office December 3, 2008 as the Senator representing Senate District 12 in the Maine Senate. Prior to being selected to serve on the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee, Diamond served as Senate Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and as a member of the Transportation Committee.
The Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is responsible for managing issues like our state's budget, bond issues, surpluses, financial evaluation of agencies of state government, and overall fiscal policy.
Standish and Maine Stand Down Racism and Violence
Tue, 18 Nov 2008 14:22:24 EST
State Senator Bill Diamond introduces resolve to reject hate speech and threats of violence following the election of President-elect Barack Obama
AUGUSTA-State Senator Bill Diamond, D-Windham, today announced that he is submitting a resolve to the legislature, which clearly states that the people of Standish and Maine reject acts of racism and threats of violence.
Representative-elect Mike Shaw, D-Standish, and Representative John Robinson, R-Raymond will also be co-sponsoring the resolve.
Senator Diamond said he is sponsoring the resolve in response to a series of isolated racist incidents and threats towards President-elect Barack Obama in some towns and schools in Maine following his election as our next president.
One of the threats occurred in Standish, a town in Senator Diamond's senate district, so he decided to do something about it.
"After working in public service for several decades, I know the people of Standish and Maine very well. Whether they are Democrat or Republican, supported McCain or Obama in this last election, they respect the fact that Barack Obama will be our first African-American president and are ready for his leadership," Senator Diamond said.
When it comes to racism in our country, Senator Diamond said there are some people that say and do inappropriate things, but mean no harm. At the same time there are others who do preach hate and violence. "No matter what the case, whether it is the ignorance of a few or a terribly bad joke-the people of Maine are ready to stand down any act of hate or violence whether it is intentional or unintentional."
Senator Diamond went on to add that our state has a proud history of standing down racism, violence, and slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin in Maine, which helped energize the anti-slavery movement in the 1850's. Joshua Chamberlin is said to have sat in on lectures Harriet Beecher Stowe gave about the abolitionist movement as she was writing Uncle Tom's Cabin. Many believe these lectures strongly influenced Joshua Chamberlin. Chamberlin is well known for his valiant efforts at Gettysburg during the Civil War and later became Maine's Governor.
Diamond to Host Community Event
Fri, 26 Sep 2008 10:55:57 EDT
WHAT: A walk-a-thon to help support Windham's Neighbors Helping Neighbors Network - RAIN OR SHINE
Planning for the event has been in the works for well over four months, with a goal of raising over $25,000. All money raised will go to emergency cases in Windham - cases that don't qualify with any other agency, but are still emergencies. Last winter Neighbors Helping Neighbors assisted 32 households and are expecting this year's need to grow to well over 100.
WHEN: Saturday, September 27th, 2008
8:00 a.m. Registration
9:00 a.m. National Anthem and opening remarks by Senator Diamond
9:30 a.m. walk begins
WHERE: Windham High School
WHO: Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a community organization designed to provide one-time emergency assistance to Windham residents experiencing a critical need to essential services, help direct individuals to appropriate long term resources, and promote a culture of neighbors helping neighbors.
Maine Legislature Enacts Unified Corrections System
Fri, 18 Apr 2008 20:09:44 EDT
Bill will cap property taxes at the local levelAUGUSTA-The Maine Legislature Friday enacted a unified coordinated corrections system designed to coordinate purchasing, transportation, and bed management between Maine's county jails and the state's prison system.Senator Bill Diamond, the Senate Chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee said, "For the first time ever, we will have a coordinated purchasing program, coordinated transportation program, and coordinated bed management plan. Gone are the days where county sheriff cars pass each other on the highway as they transport prisoners back and forth to the same sites."Senator Diamond added, "This is simply the largest reorganization of government ever in our state's history, and we did it with unprecedented cooperation between county sheriffs, county commissioners, the Maine Department of Corrections, and the Maine Municipal Association. They all came together to work with legislative leaders and the Governor's office to develop this historic plan.""Having sat on the Criminal Justice Committee for the past eight years, I've seen first hand the dysfunctional relationship between the county jails and the state. Other New England states are already adopting more efficient systems, and I'm pleased Maine is now joining them," said Representative Stan Gerzofsky, the House Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee.Representative Gerzofsky added, "The new law will replace 16 separate systems with one unified one. It will get better as it's implemented, and the panel finds more ways to consolidate costs and deliver services. We've given this new board the opportunity to develop creative and real solutions to the problems that drive costs up and prevent the state and counties from really reforming prisoners. The new system will help the state's corrections system to reduce recidivism, improve mental health evaluations and streamline classification. These are all measures that will save money and help us to identify the best way to incarcerate and treat prisoners."The unified corrections system plan will allow corrections officials from county jails and state jails to take advantage of all open available beds in the system. Senator Diamond pointed out "We have empty beds now, but we've lacked a coordinated effort. This plan brings everyone together and creates a wider inventory of space available so that available prison beds are not isolated or wasted where there is need."Currently the Department of Corrections has 100 more prisoners than state prison beds available. A unified corrections system will help solve this problem since there are more beds available in county jails.Senator Diamond pointed out that another piece of the bill is that "The unified corrections system plan will also cap local property taxes at 2008-tax levels. Jails are a major portion of the county tax and this plan freezes them at 2008 levels." Senator Diamond added, "By working together, this bill will delay the need to build new jails."Some of details of plan include: The creation of a Board of Corrections to coordinate state and county jail operations. The governor will recommend members to the board and the legislature will have approval of those recommendations. The creation of a Certificate of Need program to determine the need for future jail facilities Better efficiencies by purchasing pharmaceuticals in bulk Increase use of video arraignments to reduce transportation costs Creating a "working group," to discuss and resolve any issues or problems experienced in daily operation of the unified correctional systemThe bill now goes to Governor John Baldacci who is expected to sign the bill into law immediately.
Criminal Justice Committee to Address Concerns with Sex Offender Registry
Wed, 26 Sep 2007 15:20:05 EDT
target="_blank">(image) http://i214.photobucket.com/albums/cc122/mainesenate/billdiamondhead.jpg" border="0" alt="Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket">
AUGUSTA-State Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, today said that the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee will meet October 23rd to focus on ways to improve Maine's Sex Offender Registry.
Senator Diamond said that the committee had scheduled a meeting months ago to work on sex offender registry issues, and that many of the concerns raised by the Law Court are going to be part of their upcoming work. He also wanted to caution everyone that work is underway to mitigate the challenges raised in the courts in a way that will continue to protect children.
"The committee has had extensive public hearings on the matter. In fact, at our upcoming October meeting, we will be considering a major revision to Maine's Sex Offender Registry that may offer the right balance between the safety of our children and the public against the rights of someone who is a convicted sex offender," said Senator Diamond.
Senator Diamond said that while the courts have been wrangling with the sex offender registry, the Criminal Justice Committee has been working with the Criminal Law Advisory Commission (CLAC) and monitoring changes to federal laws such as the new Adam Walsh Act, which creates a three-tiered system of monitoring sex offenders based on their threat level.
"My goal is to adopt a three-tiered ranking system that conforms to new federal rules. In doing so, I think we can also find a way to address the retroactivity issue raised in the Law Court case," added Senator Diamond.
The ranking system would make the names and general location of the most dangerous sex offenders public on the state's Web site. A second ranking tier would make available the names of medium-risk sex offenders to the police and to the public upon request. The lowest-risk offenders would be available only to the police.
The Law Court has reversed a decision by the Kennebec County Superior Court, which threw out a sex offender's challenge to being included in Maine's Sex Offender Registry. The registry is available to the public to search on the Internet through maine.gov. The sex offender who challenged being included on the list committed his crime prior to the creation of the registry.
Windham Fire & Rescue Personnel to be Recognized
Tue, 18 Sep 2007 09:26:19 EDT
AUGUSTA- Senator Bill Diamond (D-Cumberland County) and Representatives Mark Bryant (D-Windham) and Gary Plummer (D-Windham) will join together to present the members of the Windham Fire & Rescue Department a Legislative Sentiment recognizing their bravery in saving the lives of two boys. Department personnel rescued the boys from a snow bank this past winter at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Windham.
Two teenaged boys had made snow caves in large snow piles in the church parking lot. When the parking lot was being cleared of a recent snow storm the front-end loaders scooped large amounts of snow and unknowingly piled it on the existing piles, one of which contained the two young men. They were trapped in the snow for hours under tons of snow, but through persistence and determination the fire and rescue personnel were able to find and rescue the boys.
"This story luckily had a very good ending," said Senator Diamond. "One might call it a miracle that they did not die. Had it not been for the rescue workers, we would certainly be having a very different ceremony."
The area legislators will present the sentiment on October 3rd at 7:00 pm at the East Windham Fire Station. A Legislative Sentiment is a public declaration signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It has been approved by both chambers and entered into the legislative record.
Auburn Sex Offender Highlights Need for Tougher Penalties
Wed, 01 Aug 2007 13:47:48 EDT
AUGUSTA-The Senate Chair of the Legislature's Criminal Justice Committee today said that a plea agreement allowing Regis Lepage of Auburn to avoid jail time for child pornography charges is troubling and that the courts may not view online child pornography as serious as it really is.
Police were led to Lepage after his e-mail was found on the computer of another Internet user who was attempting to solicit a 13-year old child over the Internet. The child turned out to be a police detective in Kansas.
Senator Bill Diamond, D-Cumberland County, said, "It is intolerable to think that someone who has 62 digital videos and 35 still shots of kids being abused would not receive any jail time. This is a very serious crime and should be treated as such."
"Over the next several months, the Criminal Justice Committee will be meeting to discuss various issues and this will be a topic of discussion for sure. This sentence sends the wrong message to the public and to those who prey on our children by using the Internet," Diamond said.
According to Senator Diamond, research and testimony previously presented to the Committee indicates that 80 percent of those who view child pornography ultimately assault children.
Senator Diamond said, "While Lepage could have gone to jail for several years, I am concerned that he did not receive any jail time at all. This sends a message that our legal system does not understand the seriousness of the crime of child pornography and how computers allow child predators to be more pervasive and virtually invisible."
Senator Diamond noted that this case raises several issues of concern to the Legislature:
What is the best way for the Legislature to get the courts to understand the seriousness of online child pornography?
How do we make sure a person's status in the community does not have undue influence on the sentencing process?
What kind of minimum sentencing would send a message to predators that child porn is just as serious a crime as other offenses against children?