Sex offenders in New York have a new restriction as a condition of parole. They cannot play Pokémon Go or other Internet-enabled games.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to restrict sex offenders under from using Pokémon Go and similar games. Roughly 3,000 sex offenders currently on state parole in New York will be immediately impacted. The state also will send guidance to the counties that supervise another 5,000 lower level convicted sex offenders urging officials to adopt the new policy. If a sex offender is caught playing the game in New York, it will be a violation of the terms of his or her parole and they could be sent back to prison.
The directive follows the release of a report by two state senators detailing the dangers of Pokémon Go in exposing children to sex offenders.
The popular game, downloaded over 30 million times within the first two weeks of its release, takes players on a hunt for Pokémon using real-life maps and locations. Gamers must pause at Pokéstops throughout the city — locations, such as local monuments or a parks, in the real world where players can collect items to help them in the game world.
The game allows players to purchase "lures" to encourage people to visit certain locations. Anyone, including registered sex offenders, could set up lures near their homes for $.99 or 100 Pokecoins.
At least 22 percent of Pokémon Go's users are minors, according to a Survey Monkey. The game is rated for players age 9 and older.
The investigation presented by the two state senators found:
- Pokémon materialized in front of the homes of Level 2 or 3 sex offenders 57 percent of the time.
- Pokéstops were located within a half-block of the homes of convicted pedophiles 59 percent of the time.
- A Pokémon-related item appeared near a the home of a high-level sex offenders 73 percent of the time.
The concern is not only in New York. In July, a PokéStop was found to be located at the entrance of an California rehabilitation center that helps recovering sex offenders. And, in Indiana, probation officers found a registered sex offender playing the game with a 16-year-old boy on the local courthouse lawn.
New York state already bans sex offenders on parole from using social media. It has an agreement with 40 social media and related technology companies that allows it to update these companies weekly with records of registered sex offenders for the social networks to ban. Gov. Cuomo sent a letter to Niantic, Inc., the developer of Pokémon Go, offering it one of these partnerships, as well as the most updated sex offender data.
Sex offenders in Washington State must register as a condition of their parole and abide by other rules, but so far no guidelines have been issued specifically preventing them from playing Pokémon Go.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested and face criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.
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