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New Jersey Supreme Court: Sex offenders who served their time can't face penalities under new laws

9-22-2014 New Jersey:

Riley -v- NJ Parole Board

Sex offenders can not be subjected to punishments under newly created laws if they committed their offense and served their time before the legislation was passed, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision Monday.

In 1986, George Riley was convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a minor and given a 20-year sentence. About six months after his release in 2009, when Riley was under no form of parole, the parole board said he would have to comply with the 2007 Sex Offender Monitoring Act meaning that he would have to wear an ankle bracelet form the rest of his life. He appealed the requirement of what he said was a new punishment constituting life time parole imposed after he had committed his act and after he served his prison term.

“A well established principle of ancient origin is that the Legislature cannot increase the punishment for a crime after it has been committed,” wrote Justice Barry Albin.

“Parole is a form of punishment under the constitution,” Albin wrote. “When applied to Riley, [the monitoring act] violates both the federal and state constitutional guarantees.”

The decision affirms an appeals court ruling that sided with Riley. The parole board argued that Riley should be subject to the ankle bracelet because the law mandated that someone in his risk category, which was determined to be high, must be subject to a monitoring bracelet.

The dissenting appellate court judge said that a monitoring devise was regulatory and non-punitive. The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it was a punishment and therefore couldn’t be imposed retroactively.

Riley argued the ankle bracelet was a punishment because it required an hour or two of charging after sixteen hours of use and was painful to wear when he slept. The device had to be worn 24-hours a day and if he violated the terms of the bracelet, he could be jailed.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner dissented from the opinion along with Justice Anne Patterson and Justice Faustino Fernandez-Vina. Albin was joined in the majority by Justice Jaynee LaVecchia and two temporarily assigned judges. ..Source.. by MICHAEL PHILLIS

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