Justices Tell Government to Basically, Shut Up!

It was encouraging to read the oral argument transcripts in Haymond and see the Solicitor General take a drubbing. He was unable to get out a single sentence before the Justices interrupted him to tell him he was wrong. And the hearing never improved for him thereafter!
For decades, the Government has gotten so used to judges accepting the parole/probation/supervised release comparison without a question that the Solicitor General was completely unprepared for the repeated and forceful rejection of that claim. Time and time again, he returned to the tried and true, only to be told that the two were nothing alike. Not a single one of the Justices bought what he was selling.
Seemingly citing the Eaton briefs, the Justices noted that, unlike parole, the releasee has done all his time; he has been given no benefit of early release. Whereas termination of parole is merely the loss of a benefit, revocation of release imposes a new penalty. It seemed like the Court rejected the idea that this was part of the penalty for the original crime, calling it both an extension and a new penalty. Never before have we had such a system, and the fact that a conviction is valid does not mean release is too.
No matter how far the Court ultimately goes in its opinion, the Haymond case is a long overdue look at the legality of supervised release. As we examined in the past months, release has largely adopted the questionable practices of parole despite being on a different legal standing. The Eighth Circuit, seeing the writing on the wall, has already implemented new legal protections in release hearings. (United States v. Sutton, No. 17-3195 stating that while a revocation hearing is not a criminal trial, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure give a releasee the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.)
Justice Alito, seemingly the only one against this reform, bemoaned the fact that the Court was spelling the end of supervised release. We can only hope!
In two other big cases, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that lifetime GPS monitoring of sex offenders constitutes a search and thus is illegal under the Fourth Amendment (Park v. Georgia, No. S18A1211). In another big ruling, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that sex offenders under Pennsylvania registration laws are “in custody” for habeas purposes. (Piasecki v. Court of Common Pleas, No. 16-4175).
Both of these also showcase that the constitutional protections that everyone is entitled to, including sex offenders, are still available. I am particularly interested in the Third Circuit ruling where basically the Court has said that with all the restrictions a sex offender must abide by, it is the equivalent of being incarcerated practically.
We will continue to monitor both of these cases and several others. In closing, I want to say thanks to two other sites for helping provide us with news and case updates. One is Wayne Dowdy’s “Straight from the Pen” blog located at https://straightfromthepen.wordpress.com and the other is Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law and Policy blog located at http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy.
Have your family check them both out as they are full of valuable information as well.
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BackSoSoon is a blog dedicated to helping sex offenders successfully reintegrate back into society. Our Corrlinks address is backsosoonblog@gmail.com and our website is www.backsosoonblog.com.

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