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Federal Appeals Court Says Sex Offender's Computer Ban Unfair 478

Posted by timothy
from the in-prison-or-out-should-be-the-rule dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "A federal appeals court says a 30-year computer restriction for a convicted sex offender was too stiff a punishment. The man, who was caught in an Internet sex sting, had been ordered not to own or even use a computer." The D.C. Circuit Court's opinion in the case against Mark Wayne Russell is available as a PDF; slightly longer coverage from the Courthouse News Service.
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Federal Appeals Court Says Sex Offender's Computer Ban Unfair

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  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stonewallred (1465497) on Friday April 02, 2010 @07:40PM (#31711598)
    I have a friend who went to prison for armed robbery and a 2cd degree sex offense. He made the agent at an insurance company give him the cash, then had her go into the bathroom, disrobe and throw her clothes outside the bathroom door. He did not look, touch or molest her in anyway. They sentenced him to 14 years, which he did 6.5 years and got out. He has been on the sexual offenders list now for over 8 years, and has another 12 to go before he can even petition to be taken off. He is not allowed to pick or drop his son or daughter off at daycare, or school. Not allowed to attend school functions. Can't watch his son play t-ball. And can't get a decent job that does not involve backbreaking labor, when he has the educational credits to graduate and get a CPA if he went back to college for 2 semesters. Oops, can't go to college because all the ones around here have daycare centers on campus, which means he is not allowed on school grounds. Makes me glad I just robbed, stole and shot people, along with slinging drugs, guns and explosives. Because once I got off federal and state parole, I can go anywhere and do anything just about. And what I can not do is because of peoples' attitudes, not statutorily defined.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday April 02, 2010 @08:13PM (#31711864)

    If you beat someone up with a bat, wouldnt it be silly if a court ordered you to stay away from baseball games, sporting good stores, and ban you from every owning a bat again?

  • by stonewallred (1465497) on Friday April 02, 2010 @08:22PM (#31711920)
    Eh, not true anymore in most places. Used to be they were targets if not in PC. And if you beat one down, no harm no foul. But by the end of my bid, if you touched one, the administration would have you charged in street court. And they tended to house the chesters with people who were getting out, not the lifers with nothing to lose.
  • Re:Eh? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday April 02, 2010 @08:34PM (#31711990)

    I have to say, I've never understood this argument. I would regard the loss of my freedom as being as bad as the loss of my life. Are you really going to tell me that the state can repay someone who spent 30 years behind bars for a crime they didn't commit?

    They will have a hell of a better chance doing that if you aren't a corpse.

    And what do you mean you don't understand it? If it's that horrible for you just go punch the ms13 leader if you can't bear it. Frankly I'm one of the people who would rather fight for thirty years than go with such a nihilistic attitude. Better off dead? Spare us the melodrama.

  • Re:Eh? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by flyneye (84093) on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:11PM (#31712256) Homepage

    Homosexuality is a genetic mistake that harms no one. We are basically programmed to reproduce and raise progeny in a healthy way to perpetuate the species. Homosexuals are satisfied to end their genetic line and enjoy the life they have. Not a problem. Homosexual child fuckers on the other hand are the most disturbing of their species as they are a virus to actual humanity and are mistakenly lumped in with the poor homosexual humans.

  • Car Computer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Friday April 02, 2010 @09:17PM (#31712296)

    One of the main reasons that a vehicle restriction is allowed is that there are alternatives; taxi, bus, bicycle, walk etc. What are the alternatives to computers? With a computer ban there is no possibility of any white collar job. Find one where you do not have to at lest read email.

    Even finding a job at all would be a problem. The first thing an employment agency does is point one toward a computer and say "Do a job search". How many initial interviews include computer based testing? Many blue collar jobs require one to use a computer for time sheet entry.

    By restricting a someone's employment opportunity severely there is only one means of survival; crime. Se we take a paedophile and push him towards a life of further crime. That is not rehabilitation.

  • TFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Miseph (979059) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:08PM (#31712576) Journal

    If you're going to RTFA, read the actual opinion. It's in Jurisprech (a dialect of legalese), but if you can wade through it it's actually quite enlightening as to not only how sentencing works in this country (it is both more and less arbitrary and subjective than most people believe), but also to the work judges do in balancing competing needs. It's actually a pretty good read, and at 22 pages (with lots of whitespace and a rigid formatting convention that most C programmers would envy, opinions are not typographically dense) not even all that long... especially given that there are 2 concurring opinions and a thorough introduction.

    Oddly enough, the judiciary, who are without a doubt the most lawyerish branch of government, also tend to write the most readable laws (and yes, their opinions ARE law... that's neither un-Constitutional nor new).

  • Re:Eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:47PM (#31712772)

    You've described child abuse, i was asking about pedophilia itself as an orientation.

    Homosexuality isn't a relationship, it's an attraction to the same sex, a sexual orientation in the mind.

  • by martas (1439879) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:12PM (#31712932)
    there's a slight difference - a gun is for killing. a bat isn't.
    similarly, computers aren't for molesting.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pit a b r e> on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:25PM (#31713010) Homepage

    People do stupid things. The point of a justice system is to try to persuade them to not do stupid things any more. When the punishment is not even closely correlated to the crime, you start running a government that is against the people, even if some fuckheads like you and the imbecile who modded you up agree with it. That's a good way to start a revolution, to start people disrespecting and breaking the laws because they see them as unjust.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 03, 2010 @02:18AM (#31713866)

    Interestingly enough, there are several "developed" countries where 13 is entirely legal including two EU countries, and several in Asia.

    If he lived there, he'd be a creep, but not a criminal. Here, people are advocating bullets to the head and violent castration.

    Interesting dichotomy.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @04:52AM (#31714346)
    Uh, how does somebody's ability to understand the consequences and ethics of shooting somebody grow in a meaningful way beyond 17?

    It grows until about 25. It's not that they don't understand the consequences, it's that the wiring of the brain discounts the personal danger. The "consequences" wiring is done somewhere in the 20s. So a 17 year old will know right from wrong, but will act more like an adult who knows he won't be caught than a person who considers the consequences.

    (Early teens is fuzzy. Late teens is crystal clear.)

    My 3 year old knows right from wrong. He'll get mad, hit, and when I say something he'll start professing his apologies. He knows it was wrong, and does it anyway because he didn't really think about it. He knows right from wrong at 3. But he doesn't consider the results at all for his actions yet. That phases in slowly to be finished some time in the late teens or early 20s for most people (some by 12, others never). And for those that do at least understand what the consequences might be before the act, there's a separate mechanism to discount the harmful consequences. The best time to put money away for retirement is as soon as you start work. But most don't until they are 30 or later. It's not because they need the money (though sometimes the case, that's not the driving reason), but that they don't consider what it will cost them in the long run, no matter how many times you tell them. I think you are confusing knowing right from wrong and recognizing consequences, with being able to accurately evaluate those consequences.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday April 03, 2010 @05:00AM (#31714376)
    The idea that you'd rather be in jail than live without a computer may only be insightful outside the slashdot crowd.

    "Computer" under a strict definition, would result in a life similar to jail. I couldn't operate my thermostat to control the temperature in my home, use any form of entertainment other than a book (no CDs, DVDs, TVs, etc.), and driving a new car would be banned as well. Though a carbureted car without a clock or radio might be ok. When you take the definition of "computer" to be any general use or specialized computer, the there's almost nothing you could do. Perhaps a ban on a personal computer used with no supervision may be closer to the intended goals, with work use being assumed to be supervised. But then, the ruling didn't make any such distinction or recognition of "computer" regarding different types.

Per buck you get more computing action with the small computer. -- R.W. Hamming