Supervised release

Sentencing Law & Policy (an excellent site) has this post which may be of some interest to those dealing with post-confinement issues.

The Third Circuit has today issued an interesting opinion concerning supervised release conditions for a repeat sex offender.  The ruling in US v. Heckman, No. 08-3844 (3d Cir. Jan. 11, 2010) (available here), gets started this way:

Arthur William Heckman was indicted and pled guilty to one count of transporting child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(1).  He was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release.  On appeal, Heckman challenges three “Special Conditions of Supervision” imposed by the District Court for the remainder of Heckman’s life: 1) an unconditional ban on Internet access; 2) a requirement that he participate in a mental health program; and 3) a restriction on any interaction with minors.  While we affirm the mental health condition, we vacate the other challenged conditions and remand for resentencing consistent with this opinion.

At the close of the opinion, the Third Circuit panel describes the defendant as "lifelong sexual predator," but then summarizes the reason for its ruling this way:

When imposing special conditions of supervised release, it is limited to those conditions that “involve[] no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary.” 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(2). Furthermore, the Court may not delegate to a probation officer the authority to “decide the nature or extent of the punishment imposed upon a probationer.” Pruden, 398 F.3d at 250.  In vacating certain of the District Court’s special conditions in this case, we do not mean to question the need for release supervision responsive to Heckman’s specific offense and his lifetime of misdeeds.  To do so, however, requires a balancing of considerations that affect not only this case, but those that follow.