Massachusetts Sex Offenders Can’t Be Subject to New Probations Restrictions Until After They Violate Rules, Says Supreme Judicial Court

In a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that unless released sex offenders violate their probation, they cannot be made subject to new probation limits. The decision was issued in the case of Level 3 sex offender Ralph W. Goodwin, who in 1990 was convicted of the Massachusetts rape and kidnapping a 7-year-old boy.

The 49-year-old Lowell man was released from custody last year after a jury determined that he was no longer sexually dangerous. Goodwin was ordered to undergo sex offender counseling and keep up his mental health care. However, his whereabouts were not restricted and no one ordered him to wear a GPS device so that he could be monitored.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. and the probation department disagreed with the lack of restrictions placed on Goodwin and sought that he be required to use a GPS bracelet. They also wanted him barred from libraries, schools, and playgrounds.

Noting the 2009 SJC ruling that the law requiring that all sex offenders on probation use GPS devices cannot be applied retroactively, a superior court ruled that imposing such restrictions on Goodwin was not legally permissible unless he violates his probation. Today, four out of seven SJC justices arrived at the same conclusion.

However, according to the Boston Herald, while the SJC was deciding Goodwin’s case he did in fact violate his probation by failing to fully participate in mental health counseling. He is now wearing a GPS ankle bracelet as a result of the violation.

Per probation data, because of the SJC’s 2009 ruling 162 people convicted of Massachusetts sexual crimes successfully petitioned the court to terminate their GPS monitoring. Another 160 sexual offenders who were convicted after 2006 were also allowed to get rid of their GPS bracelets.

Divided SJC bars new probation limits on some sex offenders,, September 17, 2010
Sex offender in SJC case breaks probation, gets bracelet, Boston Herald, September 17, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Massachusetts Law About Probation, Sentencing and Parole

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