A Colorado court of appeals issued a decision today upholding a condition of probation that severely limits a registrant’s use of both the internet and social media while he is on probation. The court acknowledged in its decision that the registrant’s offense did not include use of either the internet or social media.
“This decision is outrageous and must be appealed,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “This court made a huge and erroneous leap in logic that a person who commits a hands-on offense with a family member, who was a minor, will seek out other minors using the internet and/or social media.”
Specifically, the court stated that because the registrant engaged in sexual contact with a minor, it was “reasonable to place restrictions on….use of a medium that easily can be used to facilitate contact with children.” The court also stated that “computers and internet connections have been characterized elsewhere as tools of the trade for those who sexually prey on children.”
“Given this reasoning by the court, courts should also prohibit registrants from living inside a home or driving a car because minors are often sexually abused in those locations,” stated Bellucci. “To do so of course would be ridiculous just as this decision is.”
In its decision, the court considered a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Packingham, which decided that the government may not prohibit registrants from accessing social media. The court stated that the registrant in this case is different than the registrant in the Packingham case because the registrant in this case is on probation.
According to this court, probationers “do not enjoy ‘the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled.”’” The court added, “just as other punishments for criminal convictions curtail an offender’s freedoms, a court granting probation may impose reasonable conditions that deprive the offender of some freedoms enjoyed by law-abiding citizens.”
Although the court denied the registrant’s use of the internet and social media for most purposes, the court did approve the registrant’s use of both the internet and social media while at work for work purposes.
For anyone interested in some extra reading, I have been collecting documents and court decisions related to this issue. These may or may not be helpful and I do not know if they have been overturned or still stand.
Quoting from People v Morger, Illinois Supreme Court ruling of 2019 (link cited in post from ‘webmaster’):
“When deciding the propriety of a condition of probation imposed in a particular case,
whether explicitly statutory or not, the overriding concern is reasonableness…”To be reasonable, a condition of probation must not be overly broad when viewed in the light of the desired goal or the means to that end…In other words, `”[w]here a condition of probation requires a waiver of precious constitutional rights, the condition
must be narrowly drawn; to the extent it is overbroad it is not reasonably related to the compelling state interest in reformation and rehabilitation and is an unconstitutional restriction on the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights.”‘
I went to court ten years ago to litigate a complete ban on Internet access on me by parole authorities. The court’s decision was clear. The state must apply the least restrictive restrictions on Internet access, something the Colorado court has admitted it did not do. This was in California and the state did not appeal the decision so it never got to the point where it could be published and become precedent. But I learned a lot about the First Amendment and its jurisprudence while working on this case. I hope this Colorado case gets appealed to the state supreme court and they see reason.
As the United States Supreme Court held in United States v. Knights, “[i]nherent in the very nature of probation 14is that probationers ‘do not enjoy “the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled.”’” 534 U.S. 112, 119(2001)(quoting Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 874 (1987)). “Just as other punishments for criminal convictions curtail an offender’s freedoms, a court granting probation may impose reasonable conditions that deprive the offender of some freedoms enjoyed by law-abiding citizens.” Id.;see also Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 48 (2007) (“Offenders on probation are… subject to several standard conditions that substantially restrict their liberty.”) (emphasis added).
As a corollary, does someone who completed probation attain the right to enjoy “the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled?” Does a registrant enjoy such liberty if not on probation? It is a safe bet that this probationer after successful completion of probation will suffer limited liberty via regulation, a clear violation of United States v. Knights.
This is election maneuvering as they are appointed then possibly reelected by the population.
I remember when Kamala Harris was going hard advocating for a bill similar to this the scary part about it was she wanted this for every sexoffender living in California regardless if they were on probation or not thank GOD it didn’t pass.
People on probation or parole don’t have a choice if they say no internet access unless your at work or looking for work then that means no internet access.
When I was on probation my PO would just take my phone and go through it no question asked got so bad I stop bringing my phone with me when I had to report.
These judges are Quislings – traitors to the Constitution of the United States of America, but instead of selling it to a fascist strongman, they are selling it to cow eyed, screeching soccer moms who never had an original thought in their life. This is what America has become – an absolute cesspit. Everyday I pray someone presses the DELETE button! Erase and start over – nothing worth saving here.