Supreme Court Rules Sex Offenders Allowed to Use Social Media
Sex-Offender Social Media Ban Thrown Out by Supreme Court
On Monday, the Supreme Court overturned a North Carolina Law that restricted use of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The Justices argued that social media has become one of the most important sources of information in our society and restricting access to these sites, even to convicted criminals, would be a violation of first amendment rights.
The issue was brought to the Supreme Court by Lester G. Parkingham Jr., a registered sex offender from 2002 who completed his two-year probation sentence but faced additional charges in 2010 after law enforcement found a Facebook account he created under a different name. The case brought attention to a 2008 North Carolina law that permitted felony charges to be brought against any registered sex offender who used social media.
Justice Anthony Kennedy felt that restricting Social media access did not allow the user to legitimately exercise his or her right to free speech. Criminals are able to obtain genuine benefits from accessing social media, particularly if they are looking to pursue rewarding lawful lives.
Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan agree that North Carolina’s law against the use of social networking sites simply goes too far. They believe that social media sites are now an important source of information and a useful tool for building community life.
North Carolina’s law is more strict than most other states, but Mr. Packingham’s free speech victory will certainly be shared with the estimated 700,000 registered sex offenders across the country.
Florida’s View on Sex Offenders Using Social Media
Registered sex offenders in Florida are not banned from using Social Media, but the state does have several guidelines in place to avoid inappropriate activity online.
Some of the more common rules relating to social media use for registered sex offenders in Florida include:
- Sharing login details for all accounts with supervisor
- Regular monitoring and checking account usage history
Much like North Carolina, Florida’s allowance for convicted sex offenders to use social media makes some question if the system is being abused. Some people feel like it’s simply too hard to determine what accounts they have and what they’re actually doing online. Whichever way you look at it, we must always be working towards an even balance of public safety and first amendment rights.
The restrictions put in place by the State of Florida, in an effort to prevent dangerous sex offenders from contacting minors, are understandable. However, too many restrictions can make rehabilitation challenging. As a result, offenders that serve their time and pose no risk to the community struggle to re-enter society and rebuild their lives.