Sex offenders banned from the Internet

New Jersey has become the third state (along with Florida and Nevada) to pass a law banning convicted sex offenders from ever using the Internet again. The law would apply only to those sex offenders who used the Internet in committing their crimes.

Although none of us at Hochberg Levin & Zeiger are pro-crime, and although we recognize that sex crimes (especially against children) are among the most heinous offenses, I will personally state my opinion that this law goes too far. First of all, the law may be applied retroactively to folks who have already been convicted. It is simply unfair to add on punishments to someone's life that they didn't know about when they made the decision to go to trial or plead guilty. The Supreme Court allows this kind of retroactive nonsense to go on, even though it seems to violate the ex post facto clause of the Constitution, because these types of laws are not considered "punishment" but rather an administrative monitoring civil-type penalty. Sound silly? That's our courts.

Separate and apart from the retroactivity issue, another problem I have with this law is that there's no time-limit on it. What happened to the notion in our society that you serve your time, finish your parole or probation, and you've paid you debt to society? We've gotten so scared as a society that we're rushing as fast as we can to remove liberty. There's no such thing as forgiveness anymore, no welcoming back offenders into society and helping them to become productive members again. We're ridding ourselves of the idea that people can be rehabilitated. The pendulum keeps swinging further and further, with politicians trying to out-tough each-other on crime. I fear where we are headed.