TRENTON (AP) - A New Jersey appeals court has ruled (PDF) that paroled sex offenders can be barred from Facebook, LinkedIn and other online social networks.
Two offenders had gone to court to challenge that restriction, saying social networks are important ways to get news, information and find business opportunities.
However, a three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the offenders can be kept off social network as a term of parole. The judges said they agree that the networks are an important facet of modern life, but said there is a good reason to keep convicted sex offenders off them.
"The provisions are legitimately aimed at restricting such offenders from participating in unwholesome interactive discussions on the Internet with children or strangers who might fall prey to their potential recidivist behavior," Judge Jack Sabatino said in his opinion. He noted that the parolees can still get news and buy products online.
- What recidivist behavior? Studies show that ex-sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate out there, except for murderers.
The panel also notes that state parole officials have a regulation about social networking restrictions and that offenders had been told about it in advanced.
In the same ruling, the judges found parole officers can also require offenders to submit to polygraph tests. But the court said the group of former inmates who challenged the lie-detector tests could challenge the way the tests are used.
The panel also dismissed one parolee's Halloween curfew as moot because his parole period is over.