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National

WA: Probationer Wins Washington Supreme Court Case on Pornography

[floridaactioncommittee.org 5/17/18]

A convicted sex offender in Washington challenged a provision of his probation that prevented him from “possessing or accessing pornographic materials” and won!

The definition of “pornographic materials”, he argued, is unconstitutionally vague. It could mean watching the film Titanic, or having a Victoria’s Secret catalogue.

The Court agreed, finding, “the statute must “give the person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what [behavior] is prohibited.” Grayned, 408 U.S. at 108. Second, the law must provide explicit standards to those charged with enforcing the law in order to prevent “arbitrary and discriminatory” application. Id. Finally, a vague law that encroaches on “‘sensitive areas of basic First Amendment freedoms’” naturally inhibits the exercise of those freedoms because individuals who are uncertain of the meaning of a statute will steer “‘far wider”‘ than necessary in order to ensure compliance. Id. at 109 (quoting Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U.S. 360, 372, 84 S. Ct. 1316, 12 L. Ed. 2d 377 (1964)).”

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  1. David

    Hoorah!! A victory for common sense!! (And kudos to a judge who does not jump on the let’s beat up the sex offender bandwagon!) I wonder if one could use the same or similar legal argument against all the endless, complex, and unique city/ county/state-distinct restrictions that apply to Registrants? I have often wondered how: (1) a registered “person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what [behavior] is prohibited” could gain and retain knowledge of all the many & varied laws and restrictions that apply to him/her? And (2) news & anecdotal reports certainly support the argument that these many restrictions are applied in an “arbitrary and discriminatory” manner. Similarly, I have often wondered – with new restrictions being written all the time – how can “a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity” be expected to and responsible for having knowledge of all the laws and restrictions? If some a-hole lawmaker decides, for example, that registrants are no longer allowed to operate a motorized vehicle between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., how are we to be aware of such a law?? Nobody sends us flyers/notices/alerts, so I don’t understand how we can be held responsible for knowing such laws.

    • ioshiames

      Excellent point. I think that if someone had all of those items compiled in one place, it would paint the picture. In Missouri, the laws are dispersed across multiple statutes so it is difficult to even fit them on the registry papers you sign 4 times per year.

    • Jason

      Good… I went to court for a similar situation, my probation officer wanted to violate me for having adult porn on my laptop. I admitted to watching it, and stated I didn’t know it was a violation. He said it’s a violation because its against the contract I signed with my therapy program. To be honest I didn’t know, I filled out tons on paperwork days after my incarceration, I wasn’t given any paperwork to keep stating otherwise and it wasn’t in my terms or vindication’s, I didn’t sign anything with my PO stating that fact either. My PO confiscated my laptop, and cell phone to check it, and I was clean. I lawyered up and was given a warning. When I took a polygraph I learned that anything that’s gratifying to a person is considered porn, and can be grounds to be terminated from the program. It was a scary situation, I was paranoid since then and fear even watching TV.

      • What a crock!!

        Those Sharper Future type, sex offender “therapy” programs are an insult to real treatment. Programs like the Sharper Future sham reinforce shame with the containment meetings, deceive through the polygraph, and require its “patients” to waiver many of their rights away. Too many times the contracts are in direct contradiction to the constitution.

        While the probation and parole terms are at least sometimes more carefully written to adhere to constitutional law, the so called “therapy” contracts are almost NEVER scrutinized.

        Sharper Future type “doctors,” “clinicians,” and unlicensed interns get away with too much. They have never been held accountable when (at least the ones that have licenses) any other mental health professional would have lost their license long ago.

        • Anonymous

          Try the The Counseling & Psychotherapy Center, Inc. Program. You guys have it easy. I’ve been forced in for 7 years so far. 3 years of lies, empty threats, useless polygraphs and double talk to go. WoooHooo. AND it’s expensive!!!

        • That's What Sharper Future Is

          Funny thing is that “lies, empty threats, useless polygraphs and double talk” is EXACTLY what describes Sharper Future.

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