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April 3, 2012

Arkansas parole board assessing total internet ban for all released sex offenders

As reported in this recent local story, headlined "Arkansas board eyes Internet ban for sex offenders," officials in the Natural State are considering a broad (unnatural?) restriction on all released sex offenders. Here are the basics:

Some freed sex offenders will be able to send e-mails and browse the Web for a while longer while the state Board of Parole researches whether it can adopt a policy that bars convicted sex offenders from using the Internet without infringing on their First Amendment rights.

The board had been scheduled to vote Thursday, at a meeting in Hot Springs, on a proposal to prohibit all paroled sex offenders from using the Internet -- at least for an initial period after their release from prison.  The board now restricts sex offenders' Internet access on a case-by-case basis.

But the board put off discussing imposing the broader restriction at the request of Chairman John Felts, who said the state attorney general's office is researching whether such a ban would be constitutional.  "We just want to make sure that we don't make a ruling that we have to back off of," Felts said....

At that meeting, Knoll said parole officers have found that offenders are frequently using the Internet to download child pornography and communicate with children.  Under the proposal, all sex offenders would initially be barred from accessing the Internet, but they could request permission to use it for a specific purpose, such as for use in the workplace.

Felts said he discussed the proposal Monday with Graves and Assistant Attorney General Arnold Jochums, a legal adviser to the board, and Jochums requested more time for research.  He said the board also contacted the Association of Paroling Authorities International, which agreed to survey states on their policies.

In a phone interview, criminal-defense attorney Jeff Rosenzweig of Little Rock said it's a "close question" on whether the board could bar offenders' Internet access. But he called the policy "ill-considered, particularly since so much of life and commerce and everything else like that has gone to the Internet.  It would put them at even more of a disadvantage in trying to be law-abiding, to reintegrate back into society," he said.

In Louisiana, a federal judge ruled that a law prohibiting certain types of sex offenders from using social networking sites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks was an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.  Unlike the Arkansas policy, however, the law made accessing the sites a crime and applied to offenders who were no longer under state supervision.  Pam Laborde, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said the state's Parole Board now imposes restrictions on a case by-case basis.

In Texas, a Board of Pardons and Paroles policy, adopted in 2009, prohibits certain sex offenders from using social-networking sites, using the Internet to gain access to obscene material, communicating through the Internet with anyone they know to be under 17 or communicating on the Internet about sexual topics with anyone under 17, whether the offender knows the person's age or not.

The Texas restriction applies only to offenders deemed to be at high risk of re-offending and whose convictions involved the use of a computer.  Offenders can petition for an exception if the restriction interferes with the ability to attend school or perform duties at work.

As I have noted before, just whether, when, and how sex offenders can be prohibited from getting on-line is a challenging legal issue that seems certain to arise in many jurisdictions in many different ways.  I suspect it is only a matter of when, not if, this issue in some variation eventually get to the Supreme Court.

Some related posts:

April 3, 2012 at 09:17 AM | Permalink


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To ban any former convict, no matter what his or her former offense, from ALL internet use instead of merely from using it for criminal activity like soliciting sex from minors, for conducting illegal drug transactions, etc., is un-American. The Internet has become too essential for the average American in carrying out the day-to-day business of their lives.

Besides, this ban might provoke civil disobedience or even, God forbid, a violent backlash by those who are embittered about being denied access to an essential form of communication. How will you get enough law enforcement personnel to enforce such a ban when the police already have their hands ful with real time violent crime and insideous white collar frauds that threaten to destroy our country's economy? I work as a note-taker/reader for a community college.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Apr 3, 2012 10:16:20 AM

i think this entiere board including it's retard of a chairman should be snatched off the street and strung up on the nearest TREE! for their crimes against americans!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 3, 2012 10:45:27 AM

U 2 pay 4 it!

& 2 monitor it.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 3, 2012 1:26:17 PM

assume that means via internet capable cell phones too

Posted by: Tom Danson | Apr 5, 2012 1:41:53 PM

UK Government Proposes Law Monitoring Every Email, Phone Call, and Text Message

On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and the Interior Ministry were forced to defend a sweeping wiretapping proposal, which would aim to monitor every single email, text message, and phone call flowing through the whole country. The proposal would likely force all UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to install “black boxes” on their systems that use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, which would give authorities access to all communications data without a warrant or any judicial oversight.

I'm a character in a similar story.

Posted by: Winston Smith | Apr 6, 2012 2:06:09 AM

What some "constituional genius's" love to argue about the rights and liberties of convicted sex offenders..let us not forget the very real issue that sex offenders commit crimes out of sexual compulsion and opportunity. The internet is a gateway for opportunity and I personally think any avenue that society can block to alleviate these ever increasing crimes should be utilized. Sex offenders and Or their advocates (Rod Smith) will argue that the internet is an integral part of functioning in society..well I have two grandmothers that get on just fine without ever learning to turn a computer on. Here is my argument for the ban "My Children and grandchildren have the right to utilize America's technolgy without becoming bait for bad guys" In this day and age its no secret what will land a person on the registry. If your too stupid to put your hand in the fire anyway? Maybe you shouldnt have access to matches..

Posted by: Valerie Parkhurst | Apr 6, 2012 7:18:21 AM

'any avenue that society can block to alleviate these ever increasing crimes should be utilize'

please return to your doomsday bunker of schizophrenic fears so the rest of us can live our lives without continually being bombarded by such chicken little phobias and from someone who evidently would prefer that everyone also reside in that fortified shell, protected forever from all risks no matter how small at the expense of a continuing erosion of everyone elses rights

Posted by: Tom Danson | Apr 6, 2012 12:59:04 PM

"Lauderdale woman faces charges after confrontation with sex offenders.

As Valerie Parkhurst was warning neighbors about sex offenders, ........"

Posted by: Obvious | Apr 6, 2012 2:17:25 PM


Thanks for the update...zealots or vigilantes on the loose infringing on others rights is unsettling and first person experiences in a lockup for doing it can be enlightening too...for some reason seems like Florida has more than its fair share of these scenarios

Posted by: Tom Danson | Apr 6, 2012 6:11:28 PM

hey val! why not do the world a favor!

Take a long walk on a short pier on a HIGH CLIFF!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 7, 2012 1:00:31 PM

Tom Danson (Apr 6, 2012 6:11:28 PM):

It is often too nice to call many people who zealously support the Registries "vigilantes". Many of them are terrorists. They are low-functioning scum who have apparently have no lives so they feel the need to harass other people. They need to mind their own business. Get some hobbies. Get a life.

If the Registries actually did something productive, there would be Registries for these terrorists so everyone would know who they are. They are a danger to their neighbors and they need to be isolated far away from children, schools, parks, etc. But there are no such Registries because people with brains know that the Registries are a pathetic joke.

I am listed on a Registry and I spent this past Easter weekend around tons and tons of children. People had no clue I am Registered and no agents of the criminal governments knew where I was or anything I was doing. And despite the fantasies and lies of the Registry Terrorists, that is exactly how the Registries "work" ALL of the time.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Apr 11, 2012 1:16:36 PM

'low-functioning scum who have apparently have no lives so they feel the need to harass other people.'

sounds like traits synonymously in common to sadistic bullies too

Posted by: Tom Danson | Apr 11, 2012 6:58:29 PM

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