Types of Offenders on Community Supervision
Community supervision officers supervise offenders convicted of many different types of crimes. However, this paper will be focusing on two specific types of offenders where a need for digital forensics could help monitor the offenders and increase public safety. They are sex offenders and offenders whose crimes involved the use of a digital device or computer in the commission of their specific offense.
First, let us examine offenders convicted of sex offenses. Sex offenses can consist of many different types of criminal acts. Among those charges are Child Pornography, Child Exploitation, Rape, Child Molestation, Child Solicitation, Solicitation of a Minor, Sexual Misconduct with a Minor, Trafficking in Child Pornography, Incest, and Indecent Exposure. All of the above offenses would be considered felony offenses, with a small exception in some cases involving Sexual Misconduct with a Minor and Indecent Exposure, in which the case could be a misdemeanor depending on the age of the victim. If an offender has been convicted of any of the afore mentioned charged and the offender’s sentence is executed, meaning no time has been suspended from the sentence; the offender will be released to parole when the offender has reached completion of 50% of his/her sentence under Indiana law.
Upon release from incarceration or the sentencing court, offenders have to sign a release agreement to abide by a set of stipulations during community supervision. There are many stipulations that every offender must agree to be placed on community supervision, including the waiver of 4th Amendment rights. Offenders do not have the option to not sign the stipulations and a refusal to sign the stipulations is viewed as a violation and the offender will be returned to prison. Sex offenders have an approximate additional 25 stipulations that are imposed as well. Among these stipulations is the prohibition or limitation concerning the use of computers, digital devices, and the internet. The two stipulations from the Indiana Parole Board read as follows:
a.) You shall not use any computer or electronic communication device with an internet connection with access to any online computer service at any location, including place of employment, without the prior approval of your parole agent. This includes internet service providers, bulletin board systems, email services, or any other public or private computer networks (“Indiana Parole Board Offender Stipulations,” 2013).
b.) You shall allow your parole agent and/or computer service representative to conduct periodic unannounced examinations of your computer(s) equipment which may include retrieval and copying of all files from your computer and any internal or external peripherals to ensure compliance with your stipulations. This may require removal of such equipment for the purpose of conducting a more thorough inspection. Parole agent may have installed on your computer, at your own expense, any hardware or software systems to monitor your computer usage (“Indiana Parole Board Offender Stipulations,” 2013).
Additional stipulations state that offenders are not to have any contact with any person under the age of 18, unless approved by the supervising officer. Possession of obscene material is not allowed under any circumstances along with any depictions of
persons under the age of 18 in provocative or any other manner that the offender could use to satisfy prohibited desires. This includes magazines and catalogs with children’s fashions and other paraphernalia. No contact with the victim is ever permissible. Lastly, sex offenders have the prohibition of using his/her employment for obtaining new victims (“Indiana Parole Board Offender Stipulations”, 2013; IC 35-38-2-2.1, 1989).
In addition to convicted sex offenders, persons that have been convicted of certain white collar crimes have some of the above stipulations imposed as well. Those offenders that have been convicted of Computer Fraud, Extortion, Money Laundering, and Computer Hacking are subject to the stipulations regarding internet usage and restrictions, non-victim contact, and using employment to gain new victims. Due to the nature of the crimes listed above and the direct use of a computer or digital device in the commission of the crimes, the Indiana Parole Board or sentencing judge may find it necessary to impose these additional stipulations to better protect the public and reduce the chance that an offender is tempted to re-offend with a similar offense. The Indiana Parole Board and legislature has found it in the best interests of the communities the offenders are released back into, to impose these stipulations upon community supervised offenders. Unsupervised or supervised offenders can pose a great risk to the community they reside in, surrounding communities, and states due to the heinous and predatory nature of their offenses. The harm visited upon the victim/victims in these cases has been deemed by the Indiana State Legislator as both extremely serious and severely damaging, thus the strict parole supervision guidelines.
The above stipulations try to regulate the areas where a convicted sex offender could use a computer or digital device to gain new victims or harass past victims (“Indiana Parole Board Offender Stipulations,” 2013). Next, we examine the current procedure that community supervision officer’s use when digital forensics are needed on an offender’s computer or digital device.