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Name: In re Stevens
Case #: B170328
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 06/29/2004

A parole condition that prevents a convicted child molester from possessing a computer or using the internet is unreasonable. The defendant here was convicted of crimes involving children, but not involving use of a computer or the internet; in fact, a search of his home computer revealed that it had not been used to contact children, download child pornography, or commit any crime. Nonetheless, when he was released on parole a special term was added to his parole conditions, preventing him from possessing or having access to computer hardware or software, including access to the internet. Stevens sought a writ of habeas corpus challenging the condition, arguing that it bore no relation to his offense, related to conduct which was not criminal, and forbade conduct not reasonably related to future criminal acts. Further, he argued that the restriction infringed on his ability to engage in compensable employment and was not necessary to protect children, due to other parole conditions that would prevent him from contacting anyone under the age of 18. After the superior court denied his writ, the appellate court agreed with appellant, holding that restricting access to the internet necessarily curtails First Amendment rights, and noting that in some cases, access to the internet could help a parolee to become self-supporting and a productive member of society. Thus, the parole conviction was unreasonable and the parolee was entitled to habeas relief.