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The Second Circuit's Pragmatic Approach to Supervised Release for Sex Offenders
FRANK E CORRELL Jr.
William and Mary School of Law
William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 49, 2007
Although the advent of the Internet has created significant benefits for Americans, the Internet has facilitated additional criminal activities as well. Aside from providing a new avenue for confidence men and snake oil peddlers, the Internet has created a new spawning ground for prostitution, child exploitation, and child pornography. The interplay of the these two developments—the great benefits to society and the great benefits to criminals—has created a split among American courts over how to deal with access to the Internet for sexual offenders after their release from the correctional system. In an effort to promote rehabilitation, federal law requires a sentence of supervised release following imprisonment for certain crimes. As part of that sentence, the courts may impose various conditions on offenders, some mandatory, others discretionary. Peddlers and users of child pornography often receive discretionary conditions that restrict their access to the Internet or to computers in general.
This Note examines how the circuit courts of appeals have approached the issue of Internet restrictions for sexual offenders on supervised release and argues that the pragmatic approach utilized by the Second Circuit most effectively addresses the primary goal of supervised release—rehabilitation of the offender. The Second Circuit allows the lower courts and probationary officers to harness technological advances for effective and reasonable monitoring of sexual offenders' computer uses. This type of monitoring avoids the opposing extremes: either prohibiting computer and Internet use altogether or not placing any restrictions on the use of the Internet or computers by sexual offenders. By doing so, this Note argues that the Second Circuit most effectively advances the purpose of supervised release as pronounced by Congress.