Paroled New Jersey sex offenders cannot join popular social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, says a state appeals court ruling reported by the Newark Star-Ledger. The three-judge panel said opening up the world of social media to those parolees presents too great a risk for children and the public, citing a 1995 state Supreme Court ruling that found sex offenders are more likely than others to repeat a crime.
The ruling reinforced a ban by the state Parole Board, which forbids the sex offenders under its watch from accessing social media. Two parolees argued that the ban was overly broad and violated their right to free speech. There are nearly 4,000 sex offenders registered with the state. After they serve prison terms, they have “diminished personal autonomy” while on parole, the judges said. Online forums could allow parolees to start “unwholesome interactive discussions on the Internet with children or strangers who might fall prey to their potential recidivist behavior,” the court found.