In a discussion about the United States justice system and prison overcrowding, the best-selling legal novelist told the Telegraph that American judges had gone crazy with sentencing in the past three decades, placing child porn watchers in jail who did not deserve to be there.
He said he had no time for paedophiles but told the story of a how one of his lawyer friends ended up in prison for one stupid mistake to highlight how bad the system had got.
“His drinking was out of control and he went to a website – it was labelled ’16-year-old wannabee hookers or something like that’ – and it said ’16-year-old girls’,” Grisham said.
“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!’ and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people – sex offenders – and he went to prison for three years.”
John Grisham apologises for child porn comments
NZ Herald 17 October 2014
Novelist John Grisham has apologised for saying in an interview that many men imprisoned for child pornography offenses in the US probably just had too much to drink and “pushed the wrong buttons.”
Grisham told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that US prisons were “filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who have never harmed anybody, would never touch a child.”
He said many of those jailed “got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn.”
Grisham made a distinction between “real pedophiles” and those he said were being punished too harshly. He said offenders did deserve punishment, but “we’ve gone nuts with this incarceration.”
Child welfare advocates criticized the comments, made during an interview to promote Grisham’s latest legal thriller, Gray Mountain.