Updating the Social Network: How Outdated and Unclear State Legislation Unconstitutionally Violates Sex Offenders’ First Amendment Rights
In an effort to protect the public, sex offenders are subject to a wide variety of restrictions. Where they live, what they can do, who they can see – the government regulates almost every aspect of sex offenders’ lives. In an effort to curb internet based criminal activity, states have enacted legislation restricting sex offenders’ internet use.
Unfortunately, current legislation is often outdated, overly restrictive, and unconstitutional. To avoid being unconstitutional and irrelevant, these statutes must be tailored to restrict social media use by the type of offense and/or offender, differentiate true social networking sites from those websites that employ secondary social features, and provide caveats for job related sites.
This paper will analyze current state legislation, focusing specifically on North Carolina’s statute, and how it falls short of the requirements. In comparing and contrasting North Carolina’s statute to other state statutes, this paper will also provide an analysis of State v. Packingham, and its importance to future legislation. Finally, this paper will suggest a model statute for restricting sex offenders’ internet use, while avoiding constitutional concern.