Court rules state’s sex offender Facebook ban is unconstitutional

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A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday the Indiana law banning registered sex offenders from using Facebook and other social networking sites often visited by children is unconstitutional.

Wednesday, the 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Chicago overturned a federal judge’s decision to ban sex offenders from visiting the websites, saying the “blanket ban” was too broad and did not protect children.

Last June, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt wrote an 18-page order, stating Indiana had a strong interest in protecting children. In her ruling, Pratt wrote the social networking sites and chat rooms created a “virtual playground” for sexual predators to lurk.

The class-action lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) on behalf of a man convicted of child exploitation, along with several other offenders who were no longer on probation.

“There is no doubt that the State has a paramount interest in protecting children,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk, the attorney, in a news release. “But the Court properly recognized that the State cannot do this with a law so broad that it prevents someone convicted of an offense years, or even decades ago, from engaging in a host of innocent communications via social media.  Indiana already has a law that prohibits inappropriate communication with children, and the law in this case served no purpose but to prohibit communication protected by the First Amendment.”

ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar said lawmakers need to heed the constitution when crafting laws in a statement Wednesday.

“Enacting laws to govern our society, including protecting our children, is an awesome responsibility that requires our lawmakers balance our need for order with our need for liberty. In this instance, the State of Indiana overstepped and unnecessarily burdened one of our most important rights, the freedom to share and receive information and ideas.”

24 comments

    • Common Sense

      You're an idiot. It's your typical "one size fits all" mentality that makes laws like this exist to begin with

  • BRYAN B

    I THINK CHILD MOLESTORS SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO BE A PART OF ANY SOCIAL SITE BUT HOOSIERDAD YOUR CORRECT TY VERY MUCH ACLU YOU BUNCH OF IDIOTS FOR DEFENDING THE RIGHTS OF THOSE TYPE OF PPL WHO DONT NEED RIGHTS AND SHOULD BE LOCKED UP OR WORSE ……AS TO COMMON SENSE ITS YOU THATS THE IDIOT FOR SAYING STUPID STUFF LIKE THAT,THAT MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE

  • STEVE M

    JUST FRY EM AND BE DONE WITH EM!! THEY SHOULD ALL BE TATOOED ON THEIR FOREHEAD. "SEX OFFENDER" TO LET EVERYONE KNOW, AND NEVER BE ALLOWED ON ANY SOCIAL SITES,, OR A COMPUTER AT ALL!!!

  • A Mom

    Unfortunately, ignorance has once again reared it's ugly head. For all of you who are saying that "sex offenders" should either be killed or "tatooed" (your spelling not mine), please educate yourself as to what types of "crimes" are considered sex crimes & can land a person on the registry. It is possible for a person to get drunk & urinate in public & end up on the registry. The vast majority of people on the sex offender registry are NOT child molesters or pedophiles. In fact, the majority of children who are abused are abused by a close family friend or relative. Do you honestly believe that an 18 year old boy who has sex with his 16 year old girlfriend deserves to be on the registry or banned for life & punished for life? That boy can & will end up on the registry if it is pursued by the law. Apparently, you think that they should be punished for life when they were NOT given a life sentence by the judge & jury. As long as a person has completed their sentence & is no longer on either parole or probation, they should have the same rights as everyone else.

    • a supporter

      i agree with you if sentence is served and no parole or probation they should be allowed on facebook and other sites

    • Toast

      So are you saying it would be ok for a person to take your — and be put in prison for 4 years be just do 2 years and then he gets out and comes back to your area and gets a house next to yours so he can plan his next move maybe by using the internet?

  • countryboy

    child molesters should have no rights at all. if we had corporal punishment back for all nasty crimes like we use to there would be less crime.

  • miller

    i agree my husband is 44 years old he has an attempted rape from 22 years ago we have been together 12 years we one year ago had our first child a beautiful baby boy , so far on the week of christmas i got evicted, and false reports to cps that my son was being molested , the woman he " attempted " to rape was 40 years old while my husband was 22 years old . now all of a sudden people let on like it was child molestation ,we have such a hard time even finding a place to live that we can afford because of all of this. my husband would never touch any child like that they go through alot just being on the registry. not justifying but i think that it should be case by case if they should be able to be on social networking sites . and my husband has done his time and his parole and this still haunts him today , so offenders go through alot already and are judged their whole lives even if they have never re- offended

  • Moe

    Of course Aclu always take up these cases. They'll be sorry the day it backfires and some innocent child pays. God doesn't sleep and He can work in the nitwit fighting for the rights of a sick person that takes the soul of a innocent child. If they had a conscious they would be fighting for the victims of these sick bastards. On day they'll stand before God and every ounce of pain they inflicted on every victim, but , they will receive for every offense will be ten times more for ever , for all eternity . Besides usually they all stick together . they know the legal system better than half of these other attorneys whose suppose to protect the victims . If people really knew how many sex offenders where in jobs like judges, police , pastors, priests ,ect, ect. there should be a group of people who are in the shadows and take out the child rapists, the sick puppies that our legal system give a slap on the hand after the jerk just raped his 25th kid. there are a lot of them out there meanwhile a kid is doing 5 years for a joint. oh ya! something needs to be done just like when they took out bin laden. Same goes for the soulless cartels of mexico who shot at Americans in their back yards. destroying our National parks growing drugs while they dump poison in the streams and again killing innocent Americans exploring our parks , as they are hiking and by accident come upon a crew the cartels drop in to grow their crops. we need pot legalized so they will lose financially in that area.

  • Steven

    Some of you REALLY need to look into Indiana Laws about molesting. Did you know its actually illegal for a man to allow a child older than 3 to sit in his lap, or give them a piggy back ride? Yep. Indiana law says he's doing it for his own sexual gratification. Illegal for a man in Indiana to be around any child, 3 or older, who is not wearing underwear, such as during bath time. You cannot even wash their hair if they are completely nude in a bathtub. The list of "secret" molesting charges in this state are numerous. I know this, because I am a Paralegal. I see these laws everyday. So yeah, lets convict EVERY Father out there of molest for taking care of his kid(s) & punish him for life for being a good parent. EVERY sex crime often was not truly a crime at all.

    • LEO

      Being a police officer i can tell you that you are incorrect. I have never heard of that kind of nonsense. Seriously a 3 year old on his fathers lap. EVERY Father will need to turn themselves in. My Brother is a judge in marion county and hes also curious what you are talking about. Dont let your imagination run wild or everyone will call the law when they see a 3 year old sitting on there dads lap or getting a piggy back ride. We arrest people for sexual gratification not for having there son sit on their lap. So as for you being a paralegal please consider a job change as you are completly misinformed or full of sh!t

  • Another believer

    @Moe…question. Want to know how to fire up a Believer? Ask the following question: Where was God during Sandy Hook? Columbine? The theatre shooting? Where is he when innocent people, especially children, are being hurt?? He is the "Father" correct? If I as a Father ALLOW my kids to be hurt, people like you want me hurt. Or at the very least, you say I should lose my kids. Yet your "Father" allows his "Children" to be hurt everyday. . An "All seeing, All knowing" individual would see & not ALLOW things to happen to the innocent. Even in the bible God never gave satan permission to hurt the children. I have my beliefs, dont get me wrong. I'm certain they differ from yours, but that doesnt mean I'm anymore right or wrong than you are. I'm just asking a simple question.

  • britt

    NO MATTER IF SEX OFFENDERS ARE BANNED FROM SOCIAL SITES OR NOT, THEY STILL HAVE ACCESS TO THEM. ITS NOT HARD TO PRETEND YOU ARE SOMEONE YOUR NOT OR TO EVEN STILL A PICTURE AND POST IT AS THEMSELVES. IM SORRY PPL BUT FOR THEM TO BANN SEX OFFENDERS FROM SOCIAL SITES WOULD BE POINTLESS AND A WASTE OF THEIR TIME. THERE'S A WAY AROUND EVERYTHING

  • IDOCVeteran

    I worked in the Indiana Department of Corrections for over 20 years. I seen it all, heard it all, and read it all. I was a single mother with 2 children, and worried about their safety. I read offender packets, learned about their crimes, and dealt with convicted criminals daily.

    Over time, I learned that there was much more to know than my preconceived outlook painted by both my academic degrees and local news media.

    Specifically, nearly every sex offender that either myself or colleagues monitored, housed, and supervised committed their crimes against someone within their social network – for example, Grandpa Bill, Uncle Joe, Brother Tom or Cousin Ed. Rarely was there ever a stranger on stranger offense.

    The typical child offender is not some boogey man hiding in the bushes; instead, they are someone within the family or friend social network. This information is not new: it has been a long proven fact.

    I blame the news media for informing half-truths, or politicians for tossing around a political football. That nonsense only sets the stage for further victimization.

  • Toast

    First I would like to know how to get Ken Faulk out of this office. I filed a claim and he ignored it and it almost cost the life of my wife and kids.
    But let's get to the story. Let me understand this. We can't take the weapon that a sex offender uses to get to the kids, but it is ok to take away a weapon that had nothing to do with a persons felony conviction.
    1. A person gets a felony conviction for abduction and sexually abusing a child using the social media to lure a child somewhere and we can't ban his use of this media used as a weapon.
    2. A person gets a felony DWI conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol and we ban them from getting a gun permit that had nothing to do with the conviction.
    Sounds to me like Ken Faulk needs to take care of this violation of ones rights. I am sure there are many other examples of this but this seems to be a big issue.

  • Toast

    I think the news people are afraid of actually talking to someone that has the knowledge of the real reasons for the way things are getting this way because they are part of the problem based on the fact that everything is controlled by the insurance company's and the politicians.

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