Sex Offenders and Social Media (Part 4)

by | Jul 13, 2020 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The three-judge panel continued in relevant part: In K.G., this court addressed the distinct challenges raised by four convicted sex offenders on Parole Supervision for Life (PSL) to restrictions on their use of the Internet. Being challenged were “regulations adopted after J.I. to establish new criteria and procedures for the imposition of a special condition restricting Internet access.” A District Parole Supervisor could restrict Internet access if:

  1. There is a specific and articulable reason and a clear purpose for the imposition of the Internet access condition; and
  2. The imposition of the Internet access condition will act as an aid to the offender’s re-entry effort, will promote the rehabilitation of the offender, is deemed necessary to protect the public, or will reduce recidivism by the offender. N.J.A.C. 10A:72-14.1(b)(1) to (2).

The new regulations also prohibited an offender from possessing or utilizing a computer or device with access to the Internet without approval of the District Parole Supervisor and allowed the Board to monitor an offender’s computer or device through the use of monitoring software, mandatory password disclosure, and unannounced device inspections. N.J.A.C. 10A:72-14.1(c)(1)(i) to (iv)).

We rejected assertions that these monitoring restrictions “violate the protections from unreasonable searches contained in the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution,” and “rights to substantive due process and privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Paragraph I of the New Jersey Constitution.” However, applying the factors in J.I., we determined the as-applied Internet bans against two of the sex offenders were illegal as arbitrary and unreasonable as overly restrictive and not tailored to achieve the goals of their respective parole supervision because they had not used the Internet to facilitate their underlying convictions.

The first consideration for restricting internet access is broad and subject to abuse by supervisors. The Court’s holding arguably limits the second consideration to situations in the offender “used the internet to facilitate their underlying conviction.