First Amendment, Social Media, and Sex Offenders
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In June of 2017 the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Packingham v. North Carolina case that prohibiting sex offenders from using social media such as Facebook and Twitter was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.
Texas parole and probation officials have not recognized this ruling and still enforce the restrictions even though there is no such requirement stipulated in the Sex Offender Registration Program. The SORP only requires that online identifiers need to be officially registered and on file.
Authorities of law are quick to enforce laws that tighten the noose of restrictions around an already struggling sector of our community but delay as long as possible any changes that will provide opportunities for rehabilitation and reintegration for genuinely repentant offenders. Access to social media will give sex offenders access to resources for housing, employment, therapy and, what much research reveals to be vital to their successful completion of terms of supervision, social connections with a real community.
Access to social media will also give sex offenders a way to draw public attention to the mistreatment they receive from a public that misunderstands the nature of their offenses, as well as the mistreatment they receive from the system of law which casts them into the wilderness without supplies and unarmed then further punished them when they are unable to meet the impossible standards set for them.
No one is saying that it is OK to commit sex offenses. As with all criminals, sex offenders deserve the chance to correct themselves and right their wrongs wherever possible. Fifty years ago people were able to make their way in the world "just fine" without access to the internet. Today, so much is done online that restriction from social media is equivalent to being forbidden from using a motor vehicle under the pretense that two hundred years ago people got around "just fine" on horseback.
Furthermore, one need not dig very deep to learn that all the research says that reported sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rates of any other types of crime. Give these people, your family members who made mistakes, a chance to redeem themselves and they won't let you down. Give them access to social media and charge them to help prevent others from committing the same offenses. We are missing out on an incredible resource because we are letting corrupt politicians feed us invalidated fears.
There are an estimated 750,000 registered sex offenders in the USA. Odds are you know one. Talk to them. Ask them what they would do if they had access to social media. Think for yourself.
Also, for those who run social media sites, consider that there are 750,000 potential customers not seeing the advertisements.
Employers, that's 750,000 employees who want to prove that they aren't as worthless as the politicians claim. They will be your most dedicated workers because of their gratitude to be given a chance to provide for themselves.
Renters, that's 750,000 tenants who don't want any more trouble with the law. They aren't a threat to your other tenants. No one dislikes sex offenders more than sex offenders. They are hyper vigilant to prevent these crimes from happening again and they know what signs to watch for. It takes one to know one.
Ex sex offenders using social media will be great champions of protecting the public from sex offenders who haven't yet been identified. You don't need to watch the ones you have already caught. You need to look for the ones in your schools, your churches, your sports teams, and your own homes. Ex sex offenders can help you do this, but not if you don't talk to them because you are forever rejecting them for a crime for which they have already been punished.
Please sign this petition so that state officials will know what the public really wants, and to remind them that they can't ignore the rulings of the United States Supreme Court because they find the rulings inconvenient.
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