In our last blog post, we discussed a case decided by the North Carolina Supreme Court last week. Three defendants convicted of sex offenses challenged their enrollment in an electronic monitoring program, arguing that it amounted to an additional and unconstitutional punishment. The law requiring electronic monitoring took effect after the defendants were convicted. The majority held that sex offenders can be subject to electronic monitoring even if they were convicted before the enactment of the law.
However, the majority did concede that subjecting sex offenders to electronic monitoring can have a significant effect on their lives. Still, Brady wrote that the majority could not reach the conclusion that it was a criminal punishment.
Associate Justice Robin Hudson was joined in dissent with Chief Justice Sarah Parker and Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson. Hudson wrote that sex offenders have some constitutional rights. While she admitted that many are not "fond of this particular class of defendants," she stated that they are still entitled to their Fourth Amendment rights and a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes.
There are currently 275 individuals being electronically monitored due to sex offense convictions. However, the Correction Department could not calculate how many of those individuals were convicted of their offense before the law took effect.
Attorneys for the defendants and state did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The outcome of this case emphasizes recent efforts by North Carolina and other states to handle the concerns of citizens after many high-profile child abductions. This ruling does not have any effect on those convicted of sex offenses after the passage of the law.
Source: Myrtle Beach Sun News "NC justices uphold monitoring some sex offenders," Gary D. Robertson, 8 October 2010