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SCOTUS: Sex Offenders Can Access Facebook, High Court Says

Sex offenders who have already served their sentences enjoy a First Amendment right to use social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter, according to a June 19 ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court ( Packingham v. North Carolina , 2017 BL 208397, U.S., No. 15-1194, 6/19/17 ). …

But Ira Ellman, a law professor at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Phoenix, said one line in the majority opinion could be an indication that the court is going to grant certiorari in a case that deals with other types of lifestyle restrictions for former offenders on the sex offender registry: Snyder v. Does. Full Article


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  1. AJ

    Ahh…a heartwarming (to us) piece to brighten my day. Let’s hope Kennedy is indeed doing a slow, sly telegraph.

    Oh, the poor DAs, LEOs and rabid, salivating legislators who may lose their latest pariahs and whipping boys (and girls).

  2. Mr. Rant

    I normally don’t shout with caps too much, but the emphasis must be made.

    Whoever is the NEXT litigant to go for the court MUST incorporate PROVEN VERY LOW RECIDIVISM RATES in court as a PRIMARY focus of their argument! This is key. Once we find out who any litigants are for any court, ACSOL, among others, MUST contact the lawyer staff who is arguing for our side. In addition, a STRONG amicus curiea brief has to be communicated with the justices indicating said very low recidivism rates.

    This is an ABSOLUTE, UNEQUIVOCAL NECESSITY for any major case involving registrants. BAR NONE!!

    • New Person

      I’d take the opposite track. Prove the SCOTUS was using faulty information from an non-expert with no proper tutelage in research work. Then, continue on with identifying misleading statistics that aren’t comparing apples to apples, meaning the same denominator, when trying to enhance the threat to public safety.

      Prove that their evidence was faulty first. That’s more important as it shows erroneous workings initially by the SCOTUS, just like the Korematsu case.

      Not only that, but service to the state after completing one’s punitive dues makes no sense as it’s not punishment. Welp, that ventures into involuntary servitude.

      To me, it’s two fold. The low recidivism rate is icing on top, but forcing someone into service that is not punishment is unconstitutional – low recidivism rate or not.

  3. AlexO

    Oh Alito.

    “Putting the Internet on par with public spaces could negatively affect states’ abilities to regulate Internet usage in lawful ways, such as preventing convicted sex offenders from registering on teen dating websites, Alito wrote.”

    Because a 35-year-old non-sex offender creating a profile on a teenage dating website doesn’t send up any sort of red flags? Seriously, man. Think before you speak! I would’ve loved for someone to directly throw back at him what I just said.

    People who aim to commit these crimes will not adhere to any restrictions. All you’re doing is criminalizing non-criminal activity for citizens who have already fully completed their sentence.

    “If they say these prohibitions that apply to everyone on the registry can’t be justified, then maybe the entire registry can’t be justified,” Ellman said. “There are now lots of reasons to think they will hear Snyder v. Does.”

    As we all hope!

    • Mot

      As I understand we can now use Facebook? In California?

      • AlexO

        Legally, yes. California seems to have the fewest restrictions for RC’s that have completed their supervision. However, FB specifically has a clause that states RC’s are not welcome, and they will in fact shut down your account. It’s not illegal, but it’s also not welcome.

        • C

          I’ve had an FB account since it opened for non-college students in 2006. No problems yet. Many of my FB “friends” are high school friends from 33 years ago who know and don’t care, or knew and forgot, about my 30-year old conviction. They’d be the first to out me to Zuckerberg et al, but don’t.
          As much as I hate FB and it’s role in the cyber revolution (everything about everyone at the world’s fingertips), I think it help’s push bad search results about me down below the fold. If you Google my name, you’ll get lots of links with tech articles and blogs I’ve written. Pics of me with wife and kiddos living a normal mundane life. To get back on topic, if you want to so a little personal SEO, get Facebook account, unless it violates some parole restriction, while you can, and load it up with good things about you.

        • Forsaken

          Count yourself lucky. They closed my Facebook down one day; no warning. The automated notification said I was banned for harassing behavior. I never added anyone i didn’t know; was never the one to request a friendship, and didn’t post offensive stuff. Model member. When I emailed Facebook and asked, I was told “You know why.”

          That was it. They wouldn’t let me retrieve my pictures, which I stupidly had ONLY saved on Facebook. All my family and friends photos gone.

          I use my first initial in place of my name, now. Had it for years without issue. They don’t seem to TARGET us, but they will be quick to remove us if they find out we’re there. :-/

        • AJ

          “They wouldn’t let me retrieve my pictures, which I stupidly had ONLY saved on Facebook. All my family and friends photos gone.”

          Sadly, people tend to ignore the FB ToS which, like a number online operators, pretty much says, “we have rights to anything and everything you put on our site.”

  4. Biol57

    I read the article this morning and it struck me that “our” analysis of what Kennedy’s parenthetical statement had merit but also to have even a deeper analysis was a good reinforcement that we may have some hope here. The analysis of how Kennedy has telegraphed his intension in the past was interesting. Just just hope that Kennedy stays on the Court for at least one more year.

    The recidivism data is sinking in. I think Packingham showed how far the SCOTUS has moved towards a reasonable position.

  5. JohnDoeUtah

    What the hell is a teen dating site? Last time I checked all dating sites were for adults only, due to liability issues. I say someone is talking out their…

    Most dating sites are pay-to-play, which requires a credit card, to get any meaningful use out of them. Additionally, most of those sites will check each person against the registry (and have it in their TOS). Two weeks after I was off the registry I registered at one such dating site, and they revoked my membership three weeks later because “I was a registered sex offender.” After going rounds with them, and the background check company they were using who had outdated information, I was able to get my money back (which they fought tooth and nail $60.00). Even though I proved I was not a felon or registered sex offender at the time I signed up for service (pursuant to their TOS), they refused to continue the membership. They got caught doing a crappy job with a crappy background check company and couldn’t take the heat.

  6. mike r

    I really hope in Snyder they pound home recidivism rates and pound home justification for the registry…

  7. mike r

    I meant there’s no justification for the registry or any of the other laws for that matter….

  8. मुझे नहीं पता

    Before everyone celebrates too much, please remember that Facebook is a private (abeit publicaly traded) company. As such, it has the right to exercise its rights under “Castle Law,” and can still ban “undesirables.”

  9. T

    What’s their point about registrants on social media as long as they keep themselves out of trouble, they think that registrants shouldn’t be on social media because they recidivate at a high rate and prey on children? Maybe the real predators are these politicians that keep wanting to pass crazy laws that are the problem and have gotten involved in some criminal acts including sex offenses.

  10. New Person

    ==============================
    Parenthetically, Kennedy wrote: “Of importance, the troubling fact that the law imposes severe restrictions on persons who already have served their sentence and are no longer subject to the supervision of the criminal justice system is also not an issue before the Court.”
    ==============================

    Allow me to present the 13th Amendment, Section 1:
    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Registrants are “serving to these restrictions”, handed down by the state. Essentially, still serving the state after they “are no longer subject to the supervision of the criminal justice system”. These restrictions are what you get under parole/probation as you are serving out your punitive service supervision. For the services to continue to serve the state after no longer subject to supervision doesn’t make any sense b/c they’re a free person again.

    Recidivism rates don’t matter to the 13th Amendment. But the 80% recidivism rate extreme being used in the courts is a misuse of false information, that’s another thing.

    Am I the only person who sees the parenthetical to imply involuntary servitude? If it’s not punishment, then any compelled service is prohibited.

    • Chris F

      I like that quote.

      While that quote certainly adds teeth to a challenge of involuntary servitude, I see it more as a jab at the entire scheme that operates outside of the criminal justice system and without judges discretion in particular.

      The legislature has essentially created a new and separate “justice” system under their own control, without constitutional protections and violating the separation of powers.

      The purposes of correctional agencies are to punish, to rehabilitate, and to ensure public safety. They work closely with the Judiciary to ensure fairness. This SHOULD be the only system in place as it has gone through hundreds of years of refinement to be fair and constitutional and under the control of the Judiciary that is our only branch of government not easily swayed by the flavor of the month lynch mob mentality the legislative and executive branches succumb to.

      Sex Offenders, once off probation or parole, now suddenly report only to the police department under restrictions set by legislature and outside of Judicial control. The conditions are set in stone, not tailored to an individual, not review-able or adjustable by judges, and not as the result of the fair sentencing phase of trial where both sides have a chance to speak. Unlike probation where it is usually an office environment and flexible in scheduling around work, the police often demand you report at a specific time to a police station and can make you wait hours. You can also be subjected to similar, yet unalterable conditions like probation with restrictions on where you live and go, where you can work, and what you can do online. It continues the restrictions of updating any changes to your employment, residence, looks, online identifiers, and other data but instead of threat of probation revocation, you are under threat of a brand new felony.

      Unlike the “mandatory minimums” that judges already hate because it ties their hands to a certain range (and may itself be unconstitutional and violate separation of powers), the sex offender registry demands a specific and unalterable duration much worse that the mandatory minimum scheme.

      This “sex offender” scheme also takes protecting the public away from the fair judicial system that should do this one time, during trial, and instead allows every city in the country to punish and “protect the public” with more laws than any human could keep up with.

      I know “New Person” is aware of all this, but I had to throw it all out there again for those just tuning in. 🙂

      • AJ

        @Chris F
        “The legislature has essentially created a new and separate ‘justice’ system under their own control, without constitutional protections and violating the separation of powers.”
        >>>Hmm…sound devilishly like a Bill of Attainder. Also, from the Pepperdine Law article about Bills of Attainder that you (I think) previously supplied, citing The Federalist Papers: “The Framers believed barriers had to be erected so that the legislature would not overstep its authority and perform functions of other branches of government, namely the judiciary. The Bill of Attainder Clause was erected to be such a barrier.” (http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1058&context=plr)
        Yup, sure sounds like what we have going on.

        We now have the Executive (police) and Legislative branches excluding the Judiciary from the system. (Now if I can just find the PDF I had that talked about there needing to be all three branches involved in criminal justice and punishment.)

        • New Person

          Agreed.

          The SCOTUS deemed sex offenders as one class, as per one of the five MM factors why registration was regulatory.

          In their stead of keeping registration under service to the state, they forgot about the 13th amendment. If it’s not punishment, then it’s prohibited.

          Remember, time is precious. Some people charge by the hour. So if it takes only 5 minutes to fix something, you’ll get paid by the hour. Some football players get paid millions and play (work) for 3 1/2 hours. Actually less than that b/c some play only offense, only defense, or only special teams. A punter plays less than 15 minutes total. So any time dedicated to serving the state by filling out applications or adhering to restrictions is, in fact, still serving the state.

          The proliferation of promiscuity didn’t just occur recently. It’s been around since man has been around. I didn’t see any registration being written into the constitution before the 2003 decision, that made a certain group a public threat to society at an 80% re-offense rate.

    • The Constitution Law of the Land. No if's and's or but's.

      @New Person. EXACTLY!!!!

  11. Timmr

    “SEX OFFENDERS CAN ACCESS FACEBOOK”.
    That is an unfortunate lead into the story. It should say former offenders who have done their time can access facebook.
    No wonder this high recidivism lie can’t get out of the collective conscience.

    • SB

      Timmr,

      Where on Facebook does it distinguish a “Registered” vs. “Non-registered” sex offender. Facebook just states its policy is to ban “convicted” sex offenders. I have found no article or text that states that Facebook restores rights and no longer bans a convicted sex offender from using Facebook once they have completed their Megan’s Law Registration requirement. Convicted is convicted, no? As a registrant fortunate enough to be nearing completion I would like to know.

      • Timmr

        I worded that poorly. I meant to only criticize the misleading and defamatory headline. We may have been convicted of a sex crime, sometimes decades ago, but that doesn’t make us sex offenders in the present tense or forever sex criminals, which is what the headline means to convey.

  12. Tired of this

    Does anyone know what effect, if any, this has on those of us in states requiring identifiers? I moved to such a state (one known for its silver and casinos) recently and deactivated my fb account rather than give them the information.

    • AlexO

      I don’t believe it effects in any way. Identifiers don’t prevent you from using FB or anything else. This was a case that completely banned a persons ability to use FB other sites. Identifiers, like all of registry BS, is a “minor inconvenience”.

      • AJ

        I think Packingham could be leveraged into stopping some of the Internet identifier stuff. As I’ve posited some other place on here, the State having my IDs automatically has a chilling effect on my free speech, particularly as a RC who wishes to speak against the State. (SCOTUS has already upheld one’s right to anonymous free speech, for this very reason.) It’s also my opinion that the State supplying my IDs to social media is akin to a blacklisting me from exercising my right to free speech. Imagine if every Saturday, there is an open session in the town square for citizens to air their grievances. Now imagine the State posts a list of names and photos next to where people speak, and titles it, “these people speak dangerous ills to your youth.” That would sure seem to be an excessive and unconstitutional restriction on my speech. Worse yet, since Free Speech also encompasses “listening,” imagine if the State handed out flyers to everyone and said, “if you see any of these people, kick them out.” (This actually violates both the “listening” aspect and “anonymous” aspects.)

  13. commenter1

    See this – NARSOL calls on Zuckerberg, Facebook to change policy:
    http://nationalrsol.org/narsol-calls-on-zuckerberg-facebook-to-change-policy/

  14. Nondescript

    I don’t know why someone hasn’t sued Farcebook already on the grounds of discrimination based on Nationality. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin. Farcebook is a global commerce business that is selectively banning Americans with past convictions and possibly a couple other countries that have a public registry ( although we can’t even be certain of this) . Are people in the other 190 countries around the world with past convictions barred from signing up on their website? What tool do they use to vet non- Americans?

    Mark Zuckerberg knows the answer to this ….. NONE.

    • Timmr

      I wondered that, too. Like terrorists or misogynists. He provides a great platform to recruit disenchanted youth, who want to blow up hundreds of kids listening to music, but oh the mythical dirty old man lurring children to his lair, who is really just a once teenager who had sex with another teenager and wishes to just to get beyond that and talk with his friends and family– he’s got to be muzzled.
      Zuckerberg is maybe a great marketer but other than that a great idiot.

    • Con1

      As a RC in the UK we are told that while on the reg we can not access face book if we do the police will report it to facebook and it will be removed also the amount of time you are comvicted for also has an impact on how long you have to sign if you get more than a 36 month sentence you are deemed to habe to sign for the rest of your life i habe been out of prison for 4 years now i finkshed my probation last year and because i got a 6 year stint (3 in 3 out) i am now 4 years into a 15 year signing before i can apply to come off the reg

  15. DavidH

    The ruling merely states that NC law was too broad and unconstitutional. It does not say it’s ok to have a facebook account! that’s a big difference

  16. SB

    Can someone please provide insight…

    Where on Facebook does it distinguish a “Registered” vs. “Non-registered” sex offender. Facebook just states its policy is to ban “convicted” sex offenders. I have found no article or text that states that Facebook restores rights and no longer bans a convicted sex offender from using Facebook once they have completed their Megan’s Law Registration requirement. Convicted is convicted, no? As a registrant fortunate enough to be nearing completion I would like to know.

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