Speed Reads

strong words

Author John Grisham says not everyone who looks at child porn is a pedophile

In an interview with Britain's Telegraph, author John Grisham shared his views on the U.S. judicial system, saying judges have "gone crazy" and too many people are wrongly imprisoned for looking at child pornography.

"We have prisons now filled with guys my age — 60-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child," Grisham said. "But they go online one night and start surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far, and got into child porn."

Grisham used the example of a friend from law school whose "drinking was out of control." One night he went to a website "labeled 16-year-old wannabe hookers, or something like that," and downloaded files featuring "16-year-old girls who looked 30." A week later, he was busted as part of a sting by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "He shouldn't have done it, it was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys," Grisham said. "He didn't touch anything." The friend wound up serving three years in prison.

Grisham was quick to condemn "real pedophiles," saying, "God, please lock those people up. But so many of these guys do not deserve harsh prison sentences, and that's what they’re getting." The Pelican Brief author also discussed sentencing disparities between blacks and whites, adding that this issue will likely be the topic of his next book. "We've gone nuts with this incarceration," he said.