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NC: GPS monitoring violates some sex offenders’ rights, NC Supreme Court rules

[ – 8/16/19]

Sex offenders have rights, too, and in some cases the state has been violating those rights, the NC Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

The ruling concerns people who have been ordered to submit to satellite-based monitoring for the rest of their lives, which forces them to wear a tracking device so law enforcement can track their location via GPS using an ankle bracelet.

Nearly 500 North Carolina sex offenders could now be freed from lifetime surveillance by the GPS monitoring program. However, it’s not yet clear how many actually will be.

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Thanks be to god, the flying spaghetti monster, the universe, whatever anybody anywhere believes in. Just goes to show that the voters, and the politicians don’t get to undermine the constitution.

Baby steps in the right direction. My son served his time in Oregon for something he did not do, where had he been released, would not be required to wear GPS in that state. He transferred to Calif. to be with his family and now has to wear one for his ridiculously long probation sentence. When granted permission to go outside the 50 miles, he can’t get reception in some places to recharge it and is afraid of being non-compliant. It’s cumbersome, restrictive, uncomfortable, and socially embarrassing to mention a few. I do hope that Janice’s push to challenge this unconstitutional practice goes forward. It’s another form of incarceration.

The ultimate unfettered use of the machines – continuous domestic electronic surveillance of everyone. No big deal you say? A very big deal I say, especially for uber capitalized data firms. Firms who promote GPS systems are out to make a buck, and while GPS maybe somewhat effective it underestimates the nature of the determined human attackers.

It is very hard for this human to accept indenture to a database never mind a bracelet or chip implanted. No wonder so many just cut it off their leg.

Though it’s nice to see the NCSC ruled properly, it’s a shame it did it so narrowly and only after SCOTUS had to tutor–or should I say “school”?–the NC courts. But as many of you may recall, my mantra is a win is a win is a win. Big or small, it’s progress. There are also a number of items that leaped out.

Since it’s so long, I won’t cite it all here, but I really like what Footnote 14 says in general: “The Supreme Court has never reached [] a conclusion [of diminished expectations of privacy] with respect to individuals convicted of committing sex crimes who are not subject to ongoing governmental supervision.” If that’s the case, either we have full expectations of privacy or it’s yet to be stated we do not. It does seem the scales are starting to tip to the former.

I also really liked the statement, “the only actual evidence concerning the threat posed by the recidivism of sex offenders tends to suggest that sex offender recidivism rates are not unusually high.” Music to my ears! Take THAT, “frightening and high”!

Then there’s, “the existence of the problem and the efficacy of the solution need to be demonstrated by the government.” Ooops, so you’re telling me they actually have to prove that the registries do something? Uhhh, I don’t think any State has been able to do that yet…when forced to try.

Finally, I wonder if the following could be generally made: “The generalized notions of the dangers of recidivism of sex offenders, for which the State provided no evidentiary support, cannot justify so intrusive and so sweeping [abridgment of rights] upon individuals, like defendant, who have fully served their sentences and who have had their constitutional rights restored.”

This was an excellent win for North Carolina, affected registrants, NCRSOL, and hopefully sets a precedent for other states. The ACLU lawyers were really on the ball necessary to bring issues to the states Attorney General.

Hopefully, the next steps are to challenge legal terminologies such as “violent” or “high-risk” offense or offender when no evidence or act classifies an individual directly involved in a violent or risk assessed act or situation.

Good news indeed.

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