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Get real, Justice Alito! Stop misrepresenting the facts.

By Michelle Ye Hee Lee . . . “Repeat sex offenders pose an especially grave risk to children. ‘When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new rape or sexual assault.’”-Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., concurring opinion in Packingham v. North Carolina, June 19,…

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Packingham: Unanimous Court strikes NC’s social media ban

By Robin . . . In a broadly worded opinion penned by Justice Kennedy, a unanimous Supreme Court has closed the door on laws restricting access to the internet and social media forums by Americans who were convicted of a crime but who are no longer serving a criminal sentence. In reversing the N.C. Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v.…

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Registered Americans fear assault, robbery, even murder

By Matt Clarke . . . As repeatedly reported in Prison Legal News, for over a decade registered sex offenders have been targeted by vigilantes and assaulted, robbed and murdered due to their past crimes. And as noted in this issue’s cover story, that is part of the dark side of sex offender registries, which allow public access to offenders’…

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Five million dollars for voodoo science? Colorado?

By Christopher N. Osher . . . Colorado has spent more than $5 million to administer polygraphs on convicted sex offenders over the last seven years despite concerns that the tests are so unreliable they can’t be used as evidence during civil or criminal trials. Polygraphs help officials decide which prisoners convicted of sex offenses are suited for release from…

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Brain-based fact or interrogator’s fiction?

By Michael Rosenberg . . . I want to first say that I am tired of watching the registered citizens in my sex offender class pay for the privilege of being interrogated. Tired even more of having to watch as their truthfulness and willingness to honestly participate are questioned. Those guys are my favorites, and one day, the truth about…

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Why do crime registries that don’t work continue to grow?

By Emmanuel Felton . . . Bruce Armstrong says he’s a changed man. After spending 25 years in jail for killing a man during a home invasion, Armstrong is looking for a second chance: “I’m not in the lifestyle I used to be in. I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I’m just trying to build something up before it’s too…

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New York Times: “Vanishingly” little evidence of high re-offense rate

By Adam Liptak . . . Last week at the Supreme Court, a lawyer made what seemed like an unremarkable point about registered sex offenders. “This court has recognized that they have a high rate of recidivism and are very likely to do this again,” said the lawyer, Robert C. Montgomery, who was defending a North Carolina statute that bars…

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Packingham case asks: Is First Amendment negotiable?

By Lenore Skenazy . . . When Lester Packingham beat a traffic ticket a few years back, he couldn’t contain his joy. He went online and wrote, “No fine. No court cost, no nothing spent. Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks, JESUS!” For this he was arrested and convicted of a heinous crime: using Facebook. Who is legally forbidden to…

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Okay to ban sex offenders from social media? Who’s next?

By Perry Grossman . . . On April 27, 2010, Lester Gerard Packingham Jr. posted a Facebook status: “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismiss the ticket before court even started. No fine, No court costs, no nothing spent. . . . Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!” This post appears entirely ordinary—something…

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North Carolina versus First Amendment: SCOTUS to decide

By Andrew Cohen . . . Lester Gerard Packingham was having a really good day back on April 27, 2010. The North Carolina man had just learned that a traffic ticket against him had been dismissed, so he logged onto his Facebook account and gleefully told the world: “Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they…

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