Constitutionality of penalties imposed on sex offenders called into question

In this blog, we've previously highlighted concerns about the constitutionality of Minnesota's Sex Offender Program. Perhaps more than any other convicted offenders, those convicted of sex crimes face some of the most punitive and intrusive of all penalties.

For example, in addition to the other possible penalties of prison time and probation, all states have their own laws and restrictions with regard to sex offender registries. In Minnesota, individuals convicted of certain sexual charges must register and abide by certain restrictions and requirements for a minim of 10 years. Some states impose lifetime registry requirements and other penalties including the use of Global Positioning Monitoring devices.

North Carolina is among the states that impose lifetime GPS monitoring penalties upon repeat sex offenders. However, a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court may force state officials to amend these monitoring these laws.

The case involves a man who, as part of the state's repeat sex offender program, was forced to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. At issue was whether the state's GSP monitoring laws violated the man's Fourth Amendment rights and protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

State law required the man to wear the bracelet at all times. Additionally, the law provided officials with the right to freely enter the man's house to "maintain a GPS monitoring base station." In order to charge the monitoring device, the man was also forced to plug the device into the wall unit for "four to six hours at a time."

In its ruling, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the man and agreed that the GPS device violated his Fourth Amendment rights against search. The man will now have the opportunity to again challenge the order requiring he wear the GPS device.

Source: KSTP-TV, "High court: Sex offender can challenge GPS monitoring," AP, April 2, 2015

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