CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey recently partnered with 43 other state and territorial attorneys general in a letter urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees to vote on a bill that would improve restitution for victims of child pornography.

The bill, the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act of 2014, would allow full restitution to those who were sexually exploited so they could pay for needed resources, including therapy, medical care and lost wages.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court in Paroline v. United States affirmed that victims of child pornography should receive restitution, but defendants are only liable for their actions, not the conduct of others. As a result of that decision, victims of child sexual exploitation would have to pursue multiple defendants in order to be fully compensated, since images of child pornography are often shared and disseminated over the Internet. The Amy and Vicky Act seeks to address that by providing victims with meaningful restitution from multiple defendants who produce, distribute or possess child pornography.

“Children in our state and the rest of the nation should always be protected, and when acts of evil are perpetrated upon them, perpetrators should have to pay restitution to the victims of their crimes,” Morrisey said in a statement. “We owe it to the children of West Virginia, and our country as a whole, to make criminals pay if they abuse and/or sexually exploit our youth.”

In the letter to leaders of the two congressional committees, the attorneys general said “victims of child pornography are constantly reminded of the abuse of their past, and there is no way to erase the photographs from the Internet or prevent them from being shared by others.”

The attorneys general said passage of the bill “will ensure that the growing number of victims can begin to rebuild their lives by fully recovering the financial losses caused by child pornography.”

Child pornography is growing in the United States and according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, cases prosecuted for possession, distribution, receipt, and transportation of child pornography increased from 624 cases in 2004 to more than 2,000 cases in 2012. With the Internet and other new technologies, child pornography is more easily attainable and has led to increased victimization and trafficking in order to meet the demand.

The letter was signed by attorneys general representing Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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