Sex offenders: Your tweets (and LinkedIn and TimesPeople) are now a felony

Required qualifying statement: if you’re a sex offender, you’ve likelypossibly (as pointed out by Asim, a recent piece in The Economist suggests that sex criminals in the U.S. are often victims of our screwed-up laws) done something very bad, and of which I do not, in any way, approve. That said, I’m pretty sure you still have a few rights…

As reported in the Chicago Tribune today, social networking is now a felony for many Illinois residents:

One law taking effect Jan. 1 makes it a felony for registered sex offenders to use social networking sites, a move aimed at taking another step toward shutting down an avenue of contact between an offender and victim.


The bill
defines social networking as such:

13 		    (h) "Social networking website" means an Internet website
14 		containing profile web pages of the members of the website that
15 		include the names or nicknames of such members, photographs
16 		placed on the profile web pages by such members, or any other
17 		personal or personally identifying information about such
18 		members and links to other profile web pages on social
19 		networking websites of friends or associates of such members
20 		that can be accessed by other members or visitors to the
21 		website. A social networking website provides members of or
22 		visitors to such website the ability to leave messages or
23 		comments on the profile web page that are visible to all or
24 		some visitors to the profile web page and may also include a
25 		form of electronic mail for members of the social networking
26 		website.

Sure, it seems right to stop violent criminal perverts from poking around MySpace, but every damned site on the web is integrating social networking features nowadays. Is it offensive to the public interest if a sex offender shares an article on TimesPeople? What about LinkedIn? Do sex offenders not deserve a place to post their resume?

Or, what about a social network devoted to sex offenders trying to rehabilitate? If there isn’t a Ning for this already, there sure oughta be.

This is bad legislation. Sex criminals have rights too, and this law effectively bans them from the Web.

18 thoughts on “Sex offenders: Your tweets (and LinkedIn and TimesPeople) are now a felony

  1. So… its now illegal for any sex-offender (which covers the most horrible of offenses to the mundane) to be active on nytimes.com.

    I agree – people have rights, and just becuase they’ve done something awful in the past (and apparently we believe in rehabilitation in the prison system, or is it just punishment?) they continue to be hounded.

    How is someone meant to move on with their life? And you can be sure few people are going to stand up for them (guilty by association etc.)

  2. I agree. The problem of sex offenders grooming potential victims on the Web is a real and serious one, and needs to be addressed urgently, but I don’t think this is the way to do it. James

  3. I’m not sure about the state of Illinois but, according to the cover story of the recent Economist, your basic assumption may be incorrect: people registered as sex offenders may not have even committed a sex crime.

    Check it out:

    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14165460

    Quote:

    “According to Human Rights Watch, at least five states require registration for people who visit prostitutes, 29 require it for consensual sex between young teenagers and 32 require it for indecent exposure. Some prosecutors are now stretching the definition of “distributing child pornography” to include teens who text half-naked photos of themselves to their friends.”

  4. It is important that we be willing to sacrifice the few to save the many.

    The sex offender has made his choice – and with it more ramifications than just the prison sentence.

    Perverts (whatever my definition is) need to be kept away from mainstream access to minors, by whatever means possible. Will it succeed all of the time? Not a chance. But we still have to try. As a parent of small children and friends of those in law enforcement dealing with the issue, I am exposed (and more sensitive) to the issue than most. I am not professionally involved with either side whatsoever. i.e. law offender, law enforcer

    Prison is not a reformatory system – sex offenders in general are not capable of being reformed. Biologically, they have genetic mutations which make them less “human” than we wish our society to be.

    They made their bed. Now they must lie in it.

  5. someone please define sex offender so people know what we are talking about. the word is loaded with emotion…and has been mentioned now covers behaviors that many people might not realize.

  6. Pingback: Sex Offenders Banned from Social Media Sites 

  7. Pingback: New Illinois Law Effectively Bans Sex Offenders From the Internet | Techgeist

  8. Asim and Brian Boyer make good points about one’s ability to conduct a life beyond convication and who qualifies as a sex offender as it may be two underage teenagers with angry parents. Exclusions and punishments for people who are killing kids are a little bit different when you think about applying them to a teenagers poor judgement or even an adult who prefers to pay for sex as Craigslist can attest is quite a few.

    It’s already dicey about where a convicted sex offender can live. Laws about not being allowed to live within 1/2 mile from schools, public parks, child care centers, and where children may congregate. If that is broadly interpreted, it pretty much knocks out ballet studios, theaters, movie houses, sports facilities, or all of Miami. We may be forcing people into the streets or homelessness.

    I’d rather know where someone is, who they are and what they’re up to. Then I’ll have a better idea if a teenager who texted naked pictures of him/herself to a crush is demonstrating a lack of foresight or something worse. Communities can maintain awareness of one’s activities rather than relying solely on a registry to do the job. Online, “not in my backyard” forces someone to maintain anonymity in every community. I’d rather have one’s activities recorded and up-to-date contact information stored like the rest of us.

  9. I agree with Normal.

    Let’s set up some concentration camps in Alaska, and have them do hard labor for a few years, then gas them and burn them all in ovens.

    America will be a better place for it. Damn sex perverts, what’re they thinking. Nothing more than missionary sex for the purpose of having children, then once a year on Valentine’s with a long-term marriage partner.

  10. Last year, I attended the 10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run on Boulder’s Pearl St. Mall. This happens on midnight, Halloween. People gather to was streakers with carved pumpkins on their heads dash down the mall. It’s fun & celebratory. In every year before, the Boulder cops let it happen.

    Last year, the police chief decided to make a statement by ticketing a dozen runners for indecent exposure. In CO that carries mandatory sex offender registration. The cops did have less drastic options for charges on tickets, but the police chief ordered that charge.

    This was a day after 2 violent assaults (including a rape) happened less than a mile from the mall. It’s likely the cops wanted to create an appearance of strength in the wake of those crimes. Pretty misguided facade

    anyway, the charges were eventually plea bargained down. But the abuse if power remains.

    Sex offender registration is often used by local law enforcement as a tool of intimidation. It also protects people from violence. It’s not black and white. Thanks for highlighting this issue, Brian.

    Amy Gahran

  11. These laws and the registration laws in general are based on the false assumption that a sex offender “cannot change” regardless of the circumstances or individual person’s make up.

    If we conclude that a sex offender cannot change, then we have implicitly concluded that a sex offender lacks free will or volition to determine who he behaves. This is a key component to humanity itself and the concept of being responsible for one’s actions. As people we choose to act in a particular manner, and so, we may choose to act differently at any time given our personal decisions.

    Absent a free-will, given no power to choose one’s actions as individuals (much less sex offenders) we cannot be held responsible for our actions. Where many laws require proof that a person committed his/her crimes “knowingly and intentionally” the person who is denied the power of choice becomes legally insane and may not be punished.

    This is a slippery slope whereupon a democracy slides down into something far more devious. When that slope tilts to the right, we call our slide facism and to the left we find ourselves socialist.

    No democracy can withstand the absense of personal responsibility or the required determination that all persons are capable of choice.

  12. Myconspace is affected

    You may not recognize this company name on the letterhead, but I think it will become familiar quickly—I’ve started a very unique social networking community. As you know, there are internet sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and a host of others. I would ask you to take a look at a new online community that I am creating, this unique place, which will address many of the simple issues which over 70 million offenders nationwide are curious about. Where to find a friend, post a resume, create a playlist for videos and music. You could learn how to get employed, locate a house, even find a meal or get an ID. These are all familiar goals to most people, however for us documented deviants it isn’t so easy.
    Somewhere at a point in a person’s life there is a crossing or a calling. However great they may be is it (are?) is of no consequence, as they becomes tested for weakness, their short comings and/or imperfections. You are not alone in this. I know it is difficult to believe this whirlwind ride you’ve had to encounter, it is almost surreal. You ask yourself, how you got there, why did you get there, and how much is it going to cost you to get back from there. I know. Last year your life was so different. I have had to endure similar consequences in this right on my own. The future will direct you now to a different path in life as a result of these circumstances. Now with a criminal record many of the regular opportunities in life given to most law-abiding citizens are different to you, even lost. I have created a website with the felon in mind. This is a place to post your life. Members can find important information about being a citizen with a criminal record. You could find other criminals (members lol=) and so much more.

    I’ll see you soon on http://www.MyConspace.org !

  13. Pingback: Sex Offenders Banned from Social Media Sites

  14. Pingback: Virtual Concentration Camp for Illinois Sex Offenders? | CHICAGO CARLESS

  15. Felons, misdemeanants, the friends, and families of we the felons, you can connect now… Felon social networking starts here… Any offender of any kind… current, past or otherwise and the families of felons are encouraged to join. We are creating a place with the offender and our families on mind. We welcome relevant material so post accordingly. This is a felon friendly website where you can access information about jobs, put up a resume, find out about civil rights issues and news, also post information about yourself and your life. Maybe you will post a prison blog or connect with old friends and make new ones.

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