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Illinois Bans Social Network Use By Sex Offenders 587

Posted by timothy
from the good-feel-measure-vs.-bad-feel-felons dept.
RobotsDinner writes "Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed into law a bill that bans all registered sex offenders from using social networks. '"Obviously, the Internet has been more and more a mechanism for predators to reach out," said Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), a sponsor of the measure and a governor candidate. "The idea was, if the predator is supposed to be a registered sex offender, they should keep their Internet distance as well as their physical distance."'"
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Illinois Bans Social Network Use By Sex Offenders

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  • by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:54PM (#29042119) Journal
    I see this dying quickly to a challenge on the basis of rights of association and free speech.

    Yes, you can ban them from talking to the punishment here is far too harsh to not be challenged.

    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:07PM (#29042355) Homepage Journal

      I doubt it.

      After you've been convicted of a crime, you can certainly have civil rights taken away as a punishment.

      But there's something else people might not realize: civil rights under our system can be regulated if there is a compelling public interest in doing so and the regulation is narrowly tailored to serve that interest. My freedom of speech does not entitle me to speak my opinions through a bullhorn at 3AM in a quiet neighborhood. I am required to find other means of expressing opinions. A law against talking at 3AM would be too broad; a law against talking so loud that people inside their houses are unable to ignore it is narrow; it doesn't prevent me from communicating other ways or at other times.

      Telling a sex offender he can't communicate with his friends ever again would be unconstitutionally broad. Telling him he can't use social networking sites to do so is a more narrow restriction, what's more there is a rational justification for it. A social networking site provides access to many, many more potential victims than tradtional ways of making and having friends. Not only is there a "law of averages" effect, it's an ideal laboratory in which to hone a script for convincing a victim to put himself at danger. You can be rejected hundreds or even thousands of times, but if you try something different at or near the point of failure, eventually you'll have a diabolically effective approach.

      • by schon (31600) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:13PM (#29042433)

        Telling him he can't use social networking sites to do so is a more narrow restriction, what's more there is a rational justification for it.

        No, the "justification" is most irrational.

        Lumping violent repeat rapists in with people who pee in the woods when they think they're alone, and claiming that "it's for the children" is 100% completely and totally emotional, and therefor about as far from rational as you can get.

        • The entire premise is irrational. If there is such a large chance of the violent offenders re-offending then why are they being let out of prison? The primary reason for prison is to protect society not to punish. If politicians think that these people are still dangerous then it is illogical to let them back into society. Letting them back with all these restrictions is simple stupid: it does nothing to protect society and prevents the criminals from reintegrating and possibly leading a somewhat normal lif
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by StikyPad (445176)

            The premise is irrational, but prison is most certainly punishment, as evidenced by the ban on cruel and unusual punishment, not cruel and unusual "protection for society". Are perpetrators of so-called crimes of passion a threat to society at large? A woman who drowns her babies? A man who kills his spouse and her lover upon discovering them in bed? Probably not. Even a parent who abuses their children. All we'd have to do is take away her children, maybe get her spayed, don't allow adoption, and the

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        One of the big issues is that sex offender registries have been challenged in the past and were held enforceable under the premise that they are SOLELY FOR NOTIFICATION PURPOSES. The supreme court specifically said that they are not punitive in nature and therefore are allowed, but cannot be applied in a punitive way.

        I really don't see how this will fly.

        There are two classes of "convicts" that are still under the guise of the justice system. Those incarcerated and those on parole/probation.

        The third categ

  • by Cyner (267154) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#29042141) Homepage

    I took a leak outside the bar one night when I was drunk and now I'm banned from Facebook for life.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    • by fearanddread (836731) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#29042197)
      what's wrong is a society that treats public urination as a sex crime.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#29042203)

      you seem to want to use facebook

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:01PM (#29042255)

      I took a leak outside the bar one night when I was drunk and now I'm banned from Facebook for life.

      You say that like it is a bad thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)

      >What's wrong with this picture?

      Other than urination in public isnt a sex crime in Illinois?

      I live in Illinois and have done searches on sex offenders near me, and none of the charges are remotely comparable to your example. Lots of sexual assualt on a minor. A lot. At least half of them and Im not talking 19 yo guy with 17 year girl, but someone with a 10 or 11 year old. Illinois lists the ages of the victims. The rest are regular sexual assault and a few rape charges here and there.

      While I have mixed

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        the law has to be made so that even if YOU get caught up in it, its fair.

        this isn't at all a fair law. its the scarlet letter reborn.

        very unamerican in its very concept. this is just grandstanding from politicians but sadly, its a 'third rail' that you cannot touch.

        until we remove third-rails from our laws (or 'sacred cows' if you prefer) we will continue to be a poster-country of how NOT to keep its citizens 'safe'.

        there is no safety in this; its pure emotive vote-getting. and its sickening.

        I can only h

    • by jDeepbeep (913892) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:19PM (#29042513)

      I took a leak outside the bar one night when I was drunk and now I'm banned from Facebook for life.

      What's wrong with this picture?

      That's not the worst bit. You would be banned from Twitter too. At that point, there is little left to live for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        That's the other problem with this law: What defines a social networking site? Just about any website that allows profiles and posts could be considered a social networking site. And is it just limited to websites? What about IRC or chat rooms? It wouldn't be hard to consider *any* network activity to be social in nature, ergo social networking, and they're effectively banned from the internet. If the internet is the important tool that politicians make it out to be -- requisite for education and compe

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:54PM (#29043033)
      A murderer, however. He's free to use Facebook all he wants to track down new victims...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I took a leak outside the bar one night when I was drunk and now I'm banned from Facebook for life.

      What's wrong with this picture?

      The government shouldn't reward public urination?

  • Social Networks? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by homer_s (799572) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#29042143)
    And who decides what a "social network" is?

    I wonder when we'll receive calls for govt. regulation of websites to keep it safe for children.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bky1701 (979071)
      October 1998. [wikipedia.org]
    • by blamanj (253811) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:43PM (#29042855)

      This is key. Everything is becoming social. Blogging, which might one have been viewed as publishing, is now social because Google has tied FriendConnect to Blogger. Legitimate job seeking tools like LinkedIn are very heavily social-network oriented.

      This is stupid for a variety of reaons, but in a few years it will be the equivalent of banning them from using the Internet.

  • This is stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:56PM (#29042149)

    Either they've served their debt to society or keep them in jail. This half-assed "you're out of jail but you can only do X" is ridiculous.

    • Re:This is stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:31PM (#29042709)

      Either they've served their debt to society or keep them in jail. This half-assed "you're out of jail but you can only do X" is ridiculous.

      "Served his debt to society" is not coterminous with "does not pose a threat to the rights of others -- we would failing our duty to preserve those rights if we did not take reasonable steps to reduce the risk to society as we attempt to reintegrate prisoners into society. We know that some will succeed and some will fall back into crime but, of course, we don't know how it will play out in each individual case. We could keep them all in jail a lot longer because some are still dangerous or we could let them out under reasonable restrictions. The latter seems much more humane, IMO.

      The most obvious is the law prohibiting convicted felons from owning firearms. On /. it's easy for people to insist that felons should have all their rights back but I can just imagine how the public would react to a politician that proposes restoring gun-ownership rights for convicts.

      Another fairly clear-cut case are the provisions banning those convicted of certain white-collar financial crimes from taking a position of trust (aka, being accountants) over others' money. It seems reasonable that once you are convicted of embezzling your clients'/company's money, that line of work is off limits.

      [ IMO, the instant case turns on how narrowly or widely the term "sex offender" is construed -- if it really means "violent people that prety on children" versus "had sex while he was 17 and she was 16". In the former case, I'm not going to lose sleep over child rapists not browsing facebook -- in the latter, well, that just goes to show how retarded our sex-crime laws can be. ]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        The most obvious is the law prohibiting convicted felons from owning firearms. On /. it's easy for people to insist that felons should have all their rights back but I can just imagine how the public would react to a politician that proposes restoring gun-ownership rights for convicts.

        The problem with politics is that it only attracts politicians. Politicians aren't in the business of being leaders -- they're in the business of getting elected, and the best way to do that is to mirror the sentiment of thei

  • ... the sentence that Dade received [imdb.com]

    But my question is ... for how long are they "banned" (cause for example a life sentence doesn't mean life anymore)?
  • Now we have a way to make sure that dangerous predators conceal their true identities on social networks.
  • by Manip (656104) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:59PM (#29042223)

    "At least five states require registration for people who visit prostitutes, 29 require it for consensual sex between young teenagers and 32 require it for indecent exposure. Some prosecutors are now stretching the definition of âoedistributing child pornographyâ to include teens who text half-naked photos of themselves to their friends. For example, Janet Allison was found guilty of being âoeparty to the crime of child molestationâ because she let her 15-year-old daughter have sex with a boyfriend. The young couple later married."

    I'm glad you're banning all 600,000 people 2/3rds of which are said to be "no danger" according to a state's own review board.

  • by Rosyna (80334) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:00PM (#29042243) Homepage

    People labeled "sex offenders" (could be from mooning someone, urinating in an alley, having manga, and other little things) are treated worse than murderers in the US. Murderers don't have to tell the community after serving time that they killed someone. They can rent apartments almost anywhere. There's no online database anyone can browse to find murderers living in your area...

    It saddens me as, basically, it's better for the perp's punishment to rape a child, kill them, and dispose of the body than just raping them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)

      in your scenario, they would still be a sex offender.
      Just sayin'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Paul Carver (4555)

        in your scenario, they would still be a sex offender.

        Yes, but not a registered sex offender. That was the point. Assuming they successfully disposed of the body they could still be convicted of murder but it would be much harder to prove rape. The murder charge would carry jail time, but there is a significant possibility of them eventually being released from jail and from that point on they would be in the clear. On the other hand, the sex offender charge would be a life sentence. Only part of that sentence would be jail time, but the time after release fro

    • ... it should say "Why are murderers treated better than sex offenders"

      Maybe the punishments for sex offenders are already ok, and the punishmnets for murderers should be more severe?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ukyoCE (106879)

      You're raising two different (valid) questions.

      One is "why are sex offenders treated worse than murderers". The answer is because *some* types of sex offenders have an extremely high recidivism rate. They're very likely to commit repeat offenses, while *most* murderers are not.

      If you're thinking "why are we letting criminals that are almost guaranteed to continue to commit crimes out of jail?", you're probably right.

      Your second question is "why are public urination, consumption of porn, and other passive

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        If punishment were meted out based on the odds of recidivism, we'd give life sentences for speeding and fines for murder.

  • The offender cannot access any web servers less than 10 hops away.
  • How is this even enforceable?

    Beuler?

  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:07PM (#29042345)
    What is this?

    Sure, there are violent sex offenders who generally stay in prison more often than not, but there those who did something like sleep with their girlfriend of 2 years whose parents pressed charges because she was 17, and 3 months to 18, and that guy who may end up marrying her, is now a "sex offender" for the rest of his life.

    Warranted, yes, SOME people use social websites for predation (and too many), but note that I used the term 'people.' It's not just sex offenders, but I would hazard a guess that not even MOST sex offenders using these services use them for predation. Such a ban is incredibly naive and ignorant, and an outright abuse of power.

    Let's apply this same logic. We don't label average citizens who have committed some crime (violent even) that landed them in jail the way we do sex offenders. Say we realized too much violent and organized crime was happening as a result of using socializing websites. Now we want to ban anyone who may have a history of violent crimes or pretty much any crimes from using these to stifle the possibility of having them organize future crimes. So how can we target all of these individuals with such anonymity online? Well hell, we can't really, so let's just ban the website in our state. Done.

    I'd put my bet on it that most people who are using social networking sites like this to predate victims for sexual harassment or other sex crimes aren't even currently labeled sex offenders. Are there any stats out there for how many new sex offenders have been entered as a result of crimes initiated via contact through a social networking site? I'd imagine this would be quite a large number per year, so now do we need to hire some precogs to detect these criminals BEFORE they do the crime and ban them from using the service?

    This is just silly. They get it bad enough getting raped in prison and labeled on everyone's overlaid sex-offender-tracker GPS etc etc, regardless of what sexual offense they committed, they served their time, why should we now add another step to further punish them?

    Perhaps this is just another case of where the actions of a few individuals ruin things for everyone?
  • by Mr_Blank (172031) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:07PM (#29042359) Journal
    From the most recent Economist [economist.com]

    America's unjust sex laws

    Aug 6th 2009
    From The Economist print edition
    An ever harsher approach is doing more harm than good, but it is being copied around the world

    IT IS an oft-told story, but it does not get any less horrific on repetition. Fifteen years ago, a paedophile enticed seven-year-old Megan Kanka into his home in New Jersey by offering to show her a puppy. He then raped her, killed her and dumped her body in a nearby park. The murderer, who had recently moved into the house across the street from his victim, had twice before been convicted of sexually assaulting a child. Yet Megan's parents had no idea of this. Had they known he was a sex offender, they would have told their daughter to stay away from him.

    In their grief, the parents started a petition, demanding that families should be told if a sexual predator moves nearby. Hundreds of thousands signed it. In no time at all, lawmakers in New Jersey granted their wish. And before long, "Megan's laws" had spread to every American state.

    America's sex-offender laws are the strictest of any rich democracy. Convicted rapists and child-molesters are given long prison sentences. When released, they are put on sex-offender registries. In most states this means that their names, photographs and addresses are published online, so that fearful parents can check whether a child-molester lives nearby. Under the Adam Walsh Act of 2006, another law named after a murdered child, all states will soon be obliged to make their sex-offender registries public. Such rules are extremely popular. Most parents will support any law that promises to keep their children safe. Other countries are following America's example, either importing Megan's laws or increasing penalties: after two little girls were murdered by a school caretaker, Britain has imposed multiple conditions on who can visit schools.

    Which makes it all the more important to ask whether America's approach is the right one. In fact its sex-offender laws have grown self-defeatingly harsh (see article). They have been driven by a ratchet effect. Individual American politicians have great latitude to propose new laws. Stricter curbs on paedophiles win votes. And to sound severe, such curbs must be stronger than the laws in place, which in turn were proposed by politicians who wished to appear tough themselves. Few politicians dare to vote against such laws, because if they do, the attack ads practically write themselves.

    A Whole Wyoming of Offenders

    In all, 674,000 Americans are on sex-offender registries--more than the population of Vermont, North Dakota or Wyoming. The number keeps growing partly because in several states registration is for life and partly because registries are not confined to the sort of murderer who ensnared Megan Kanka. According to Human Rights Watch, at least five states require registration for people who visit prostitutes, 29 require it for consensual sex between young teenagers and 32 require it for indecent exposure. Some prosecutors are now stretching the definition of "distributing child pornography" to include teens who text half-naked photos of themselves to their friends.

    How dangerous are the people on the registries? A state review of one sample in Georgia found that two-thirds of them posed little risk. For example, Janet Allison was found guilty of being "party to the crime of child molestation" because she let her 15-year-old daughter have sex with a boyfriend. The young couple later married. But Ms Allison will spend the rest of her life publicly branded as a sex offender.

    Several other countries have sex-offender registries, but these are typically held by the police and are hard to view. In America it takes only seconds to find out about a sex offender: some states have a "click to print" icon on their websites so that concerned citizens can put up posters wit

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:23PM (#29042583)

      In some states, the age of consent and child porn statutes have the same age limits.

      For instance, a quick read of NV law shows the AOC to be 16. Child porn is defined as sexually explicit blah blah blah involving a person under 16. Federal law makes it a crime with a person under 18, but there may be some state line/interstate commerce nexus that needs to be fulfilled.

      I didn't feel like looking at too many states, but found this same AOC/CP thing with NH-16/16.

      Many states forbid distributing/exhibiting obscenity to people under 18, regardless of their AOC/CP statutes.

      SO, excluding the feds, it's not a crime to have sex with a 16 year old or film it. But, she can't watch the tape afterwards. It's a crime to allow her 16 year old friend to watch the act as it occurs, but not a crime to have her join. Neither of them can smoke a cigarette or have a beer afterwards. If either one were to rob,beat,kill one of their fellow participants, they would be tried as an adult in every state in the country.

  • by g8oz (144003) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @03:10PM (#29042405)

    On the cover of the Economist this week:

    America's Unfair Sex Laws
    http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14164614 [economist.com]

    The one story of the woman classified as a sex offender for performing oral sex as a teenager is unbelievable.
    It's hard to argue that at the very least a threat level classification for sex offenders wouldn't be a good idea

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:17PM (#29043357) Homepage

    I see a lot of comments about how effective this could be - like with the offender just making up a screen name and lying about his status.

    Sorry, won't work. Most sex offenders have mandatory logging on all Internet activity. So if the law says they can't have a MySpace account and the log shows they are going to MySpace - BUSTED. And that likely as not is a violation of their parole, so it is back to prison.

    Sex offenders have pretty much zero civil rights today. Your actions online are monitored and if you tamper with the monitoring you are violated. If the monitoring (which is collected remotely) shows you are doing something wrong, you are violated. There are really few differences between life in prison and life for a sex offender on the street today.

    And the registration laws make it even more interesting. You might as well just have people wear a bright yellow star on their clothes to indicate their status as an outcast. Oh, I guess that has been tried before. It did seem to work for a while, but only for a while.

    Maybe we can get a country set aside for sex offenders.

  • by skeeto (1138903) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @04:28PM (#29043519)

    "Obviously, the Internet has been more and more a mechanism for predators to reach out," said Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington)

    Obviously he doesn't know what she's talking about. Nearly all "predators" are related to, or are good friends with, the victim. Social networking sites aren't even on the radar.

    I hate politicians.

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