The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that convicted sex offenders are allowed to be on social media. The court ruled yesterday that it is unconstitutional to ban convicted sex offenders from social media sites, according to a report from Capitol News.
Conrad Allen Morger of Bloomington was convicted of sexually abusing a 14 year old minor and sentenced to four years of probation by a court in McLean County in 2011 when he was 19 years old. That ruling came with a binding condition he not use specific internet sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
During oral arguments, held in September in Godfrey at Lewis & Clark Community College, Morger’s representative said the ban is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment fundamental right to freedom of speech.
Six participating justices ruled unanimously in Morger’s favor saying that it wasn’t reasonably related to the goal of probation. The state’s representative said that by removing Morger from social media it would erase the temptation to reoffend. Justice Lloyd Karmeier noted that Morger committed his crimes while he was a teenager and did not use the Internet as an impetus to commit his crimes. The court’s opinion says that the ruling broadly sweeps Morger’s case into offenders who have used the Internet as a tool to commit crimes.
The court ultimately decided the “protective value” of a prohibition on access to certain websites does not outweigh “the impairment to the probationer’s constitutional rights,” including those to freedom of speech.
Karmeier noted the statute does not make an exception for a justifiable use of social media websites by a convicted sex offender at a time he or she could be supervised by a probation officer. In a footnote, he added he and his colleagues were “not persuaded that [the law] provides rehabilitative value … that outweighs, in many circumstances, its detriment to rehabilitation.” Instead, Karmeier wrote, counseling and treatment might be better options to “more likely ensure successful rehabilitation.”