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August 4, 2009

The emerging jurisprudence over conditions of supervised release

In addition to noting yesterday's Third Circuit child porn sentencing ruling (discussed here), this article in today's Legal Intelligencer spotlights the emerging jurisprudence over supervised release conditions. The piece is headlined "3rd Circuit Upholds 10-Year Internet Ban in Child Porn Case," and here are excerpts:

[T]he decision in United States v. Thielemann is legally significant because it helps define a still emerging area of the law that trial judges have found perplexing: how far judges can go in crafting the "conditions of release" that restrict a criminal defendant's behavior in the period just after a prison term.  In prior decisions, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned some restrictions as too harsh, such as a lifetime ban on using computers or barring a defendant from possessing all forms of pornography, including legal adult pornography.

But in the case of Thielemann, the 3rd Circuit concluded that the conduct was far worse and justified the harsh restrictions imposed by U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson because the evidence showed that Thielemann not only traded child pornography with nine other men, but also encouraged some of the men to engage in acts of child molestation and to share images of those acts on Web cams.

Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Leonard I. Garth concluded that Robinson hadn't violated Thielemann's First Amendment rights when she barred him from possessing any "sexually explicit" materials.  "We hold that there is a significant nexus between restricting Thielemann from access to adult 'sexually explicit' material and the goals of supervised release, and that the restriction here is not overbroad or vague considering the content of the instant record," Garth wrote in an opinion joined by 3rd Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell and visiting U.S. District Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Garth also found that Robinson had properly tailored a restriction that bans Thielemann from accessing the Internet for 10 years after his release unless he gets permission from his probation officer. "Thielemann can own or use a personal computer as long as it is not connected to the Internet; thus he is allowed to use word processing programs and other benign software," Garth wrote.  Garth found there were sharp contrasts between Thielemann's case and that of Daniel Voelker, whose lawyers successfully argued in June 2007 that the trial judge had gone too far in imposing a lifetime ban on using computers.

Some related posts on federal supervised release conditions:

August 4, 2009 at 12:32 PM | Permalink


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Neither Judges nor Probation Officers (who seek to impose new and additional conditions of supervised release after the inmate is released from prison)seem to recognize or accept the limitations on terms of supervised release set forth in 18 U.S.C. section 3583(d). A year into my 3 year term of SR, the Court, at the Probation Officer's request, imposed additional conditions on me, including not contacting the U.S. Attorney's Office except on leave of the Court, and not visiting Atlanta, Georgia (where I lived for 13 years before going to prison in 2000) during SR. I now live with my Mother in Lexington, Ky. (E.D.Ky.). I am also prohibited from corresponding with my ex-wife or any member of her family, which appears to implicate my First Amendment right to free speech. I have never threatened any of them.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Aug 4, 2009 1:19:09 PM

Is this something like parole in the UK? Didn't the UK have parole before?

Curbs on freed violent offenders

The new orders are intended to help protect the public

Asbo-style Violent Offender Orders (VOOs) that can restrict criminals' movements after they are released from prison are coming into force.

Posted by: George | Aug 4, 2009 8:03:15 PM

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