Blanket internet bans for registered sex offenders unconstitutional argues New York CLU

By Jane Wester . . . In a suit filed Thursday in the Eastern District of New York, advocates argued that blanket bans on internet access for registered sex offenders under parole and post-release supervision in New York are unconstitutional.

“As a result of being unable to use the internet and social media, the plaintiffs struggle with the heavy burden of trying to navigate day-to-day life in a technology-dependent society,” lawyers with the New York Civil Liberties Union, Rutgers Law School Constitutional Rights Clinic, and Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York wrote in their complaint.

They sued the leaders of New York’s Board of Parole and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on behalf of six registered sex offenders, arguing that broad, non-tailored bans on access to social media and the internet violate the First Amendment.

None of the six men were convicted of crimes that involved the internet, according to the complaint, and yet all of them face complete or near-complete barriers to access after release from prison.

The complaint cites the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision Packingham v. North Carolina, which found that social media is an important public forum under the First Amendment.

Molly Biklen, deputy legal director of the NYCLU, said the North Carolina law struck down in Packingham was less broad than the current law in New York.

Read the rest of the article here at Law.com/New York Law Journal.

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    • #69579 Reply
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      Perry

      I’m using the Internet right now, TO TRY AND FIND ANOTHER PLACE TO LIVE. I’m being Evicted from The Room I have been staying in above the Bar it’s located at, because I’m behind in Rent of $390.00 for February’s Rent. If I could at least get THAT, paid, I could hold out until My Early Retirement Benefits Checks begin coming in April 15th-18! No One of course, will help me. My Family’s Tapped Out. All other Agencies are Tapped Out too, insofar as I can tell. And Naturally, CORONAVIRUS ain’t making things easier!
      So, I’m about to get Evicted, and go out on The Streets and DIE!
      Once Again: THANKS A LOT PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATURE. YOU GOT EXATLY WHAT YOU WANTED. SANCTIONED MURDER BY VIGILANTE/S, JAIL/PRISON INMATES, OR DISEASE CONGRATULATIONS.
      All of this of course, was made possible by The Legislature ENSURING EVERY S.O. HAS HIS/HER INFORMATION SPREAD OUT ALL OVER THE INTERNET. EVEN OTHER SITES CAN TAKE OUR INFORMATION AND, MAKE IT READ ANYWAY THEY WANT AND NOTHING HAPPENS TO THEM FOR IT!!

    • #69603 Reply
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      Shari

      In today’s day and age, I strongly believe it is unconstitutional to ban internet use regardless of the crime.
      There are monitored computers and smart phones that would allow individuals to be part of society.
      All things to be considered such as.. Looking up banking, getting emails to have written documents noted, keeping informed on specific topics where people get news and information on social media, filling out job applications , looking for housing, research topics, apps to make life easier ie (waze, be parked, venmo or zelle for transferring funds etc., home delivery ) being able to buy with amazon, or online shopping, making travel arrangements and on and on.

      It puts an individual at a disadvantage in today’s competitive and complex world. It is cruel and unfair punishment. It is a recipe for failure and contributes to feelings of isolation and loneliness . The internet is a tool and again can be monitored.

    • #69624 Reply
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      The Criminalized Man

      After reading some of the “Tales from the Registry”, I think the only reason they try to keep probationers offline is to keep them from learning how polygraphs work.

    • #69655 Reply
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      Saddles

      Call it a sham or scheme but their are valuable resources at many times one can get from internet use only thing is when government uses to overcome others.With these internet stings its not a pretty picture with lie’s and underhand methods and that crimilized man is a bit uncooth for any offical to do on another fellow man. It becomes more of a fued and government battle of an OK coral type if you would ask me.

      Sure this is a challenge we all face that get mixed up in this and I’m glad NARSOL and others are here.

    • #69692 Reply
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      Johnny

      Really this goes far beyond first amendment. It’s also 5th if they want ur email and social page and 4th for violating a search and knowing ur location with out a warrant. Facebook location updates. Due process for monitoring software -if u can even pay it!

    • #69801 Reply
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      Dustin

      Didn’t someone in Illinois win a similar claim a few weeks ago?

    • #69815 Reply
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      Maestro

      Shari,

      Keep in mind that if you’re on probation and they make you get a monitor on your computer- YOU have the lay for it. If you’re off probation, there’s no need to be monitored at all.

    • #69816 Reply
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      Maestro

      Typo noticed when I hit the submit button…

      You have to PAY for it. When I was on probation and they FORCED me to have a monitor installed on my laptop (otherwise I would not have been allowed to have a laptop), I had to pay $29.99 per month to be watched.

    • #69941 Reply
      Jamie
      Jamie
      Moderator

      In regards to the use of social media by RSOs, I have been trying for the past month to establish why my Facebook account was disabled. I followed all of their instructions to try and recover it, but nothing happened. Until last night. I was doing some digging around on Facebook’s help pages and found an article asking FB, “How do I report an RSO?” Lo and behold, the very first sentence in FB’s response to this question was, “Registered sex offenders are not permitted to use Facebook.” Instead of coming out and just telling me that in my numerous emails to them, they simply chose to ignore me.

    • #70552 Reply
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      no

      just make a new one only instead of having your real location on it mark it in another state, and never post a photo of your self on it, also disable any and all location finding settings on fb only. that is what i did and im still fine

    • #70902 Reply
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      zdravo

      Hello all,
      It has been a while since I have posted anything and that was due to exactly what the ACLU he’s fighting for in New York. I was one of the unfortunate ones was violated 4 using the internet when I had permission to attend an online college program, and to possess and own a smartphone that I owned for the past three and a half years.
      I will not make this long, however, from what you read above that sums it up. I was on Parole doing very well for 4 years. I obtain a new parole officer who decided to flex his muscles. He knew that I was attending and going to attend online college and he knew I owned and possessed a smartphone.
      Being a good probably I decided to inform him of some issues I had relating to the college and coursework I need it and access to the internet.
      Him and I got into a disagreement because he wanted me to announce my status to the college when it is not codified in law or it was a necessary being that I was attending school online. Then he batred me from the use of the library.
      To make matters worse he refused to issue new stipulations reflecting my attending school and I called them on it. He responded by coming to my house with the Marshalls and placing me under arrest for violating various internet rules and stipulations.
      Their argument was that there is no such thing as pre installed apps on the phone such as Facebook, YouTube, or other things of that nature and I must have installed them and use them, however they never presented any evidence in the court that I had any uses name or account information on these entities.
      The next argument came that I had and eBay and Amazon account without permission. However, I had these accounts for three years because my prior parole officer gave me permission to own them and I needed to use them to obtain my books and other material for school.
      Then came the arguments of my affiliation of using the internet weather for associations, doctor’s appointments, or other things including family, that they told me I could not do.
      The judge believed them, even though the judge informed everyone in the court that it was a technical violation and that he was going to release me.
      I presented evidence that I was attending school , that I was doing the right thing, that I was in compliance , that for four years I have demonstrated good if not excellent Behavior complete with documentation. Somewhere along the line the judge decided to change his mind and uphold the parole findings and sentence me to a year. I was forced to go back to the program, where a counselor started treating me like garbage, so I signed out. I did not need it. And he called me all types of names and that I was going to reoffend and that I had an issue with my parole officer and I was angry. I agree I had an issue and I was angry because I spent $5,000 to attend college, with permission from parole and from the officer and I owned a smartphone for 4 years with not an issue whatsoever. And I showed no signs of any recidivism or any problems. I was in active productive member of society who, not only worked, I volunteered my time to help other people in my community. This included the time when we were hit by a tornado and I volunteered my service to pass out food, water, and other needy things when the power was out. I also offered logistical information to direct the authorities to where the damage was the most and if people needed assistance.
      Upon returning back into society, I tried to obtain my old email account from Google. I gave them every bit of information to show them that this account was mine, but, they refused to release the account back to me. And when I was finishing up parole for the last few months, my parole officer refused to allow me any access to the internet, with the exception of a job.
      I bought this matter to the ACLU, however, it was not enough for them because I was finishing up her role therefore I fell out of the loop I’ll being represented. These people can make up anything they want and they know that it will take several months to years for you to litigate this matter and their favor or not, and they do not care.
      Parole even issued new guidelines that you cannot grieve or complain about a parole stipulation.
      Because of their actions, I have lost contact with my family members, business, support systems, and other things that I need. And because of the actions of Google and their Gmail, I cannot retrieve much needed information, documents, contacts, and other things that help me through this process. FYI, Google will not return my email because my phone number that is attached to that email is now give it to someone else. However, as stated before, I have given them more than enough information to show them that I am the owner of the email.
      My hope Is that the ACLU wins the case and that the judges realize that this is extra punishment in a violation and force parole and other entities to comply. I don’t have much hope because I have been through this with them for a long time and they do not seem to care. Stay safe everyone.

    • #70904 Reply
      Avatar
      zdravo

      I forgot to add a correction, I meant New York Civil Liberty Union.
      My second correction has to do with what happened when my parole officer was serving me papers in the correctional facility. He told me that he knew what he did was bogus, and he forced me, literally forced me and coerced me to waive my rights to a hearing that probably would have dismissed the charges. This was the preliminary hearing stage. A complaint was filed on this, however, nothing ever came out of this.

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