[JURIST] A divided New Jersey Supreme Court [official website] on Monday ruled [opinion, PDF] that requiring a sex offender to wear a GPS tracking device after he has completed his sentence violates the federal and state constitutions. The 2007 Sex Offender Monitoring Act (SOMA) [text, PDF] requires the states highest-risk sex offenders to wear GPS monitoring constantly. However, because plaintiffs offense was completed before SOMA’s enactment, the court ruled it would violate the ex post facto clauses of the US Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution [texts]. Delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Albin stated: “A well-established principle of ancient origin is that the legislature cannot increase the punishment for a crime after it has been committed.”
The rights of convicted sex offenders [JURIST news archive] have been the subject of many constitution-based lawsuits. In January of last year the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] an Indiana law that prohibits sex offenders from joining social networking websites, stating that the law targeted free speech and thus deserved careful scrutiny, a standard which it did not meet. In October 2012 a California resident sued [JURIST report] four Orange County cities over sex offender ordinances. In August 2012 a federal appeals court struck down [JURIST report] the Indiana sex offender registry saying it violated due process. In January 2012 the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled 7-2 [JURIST report] that people who were convicted of sex offenses before the enactment of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act [text, PDF] did not have to register under the act until the attorney general validly specified that the provisions applied to them. A few days earlier a federal appeals court struck down [JURIST report] a city ordinance that banned sex offenders from libraries in Albuquerque, New Mexico.