A Forfeiture of Rights: For-Life Ankle Monitoring Upheld by the 7th Circuit

Is legal punishment meant to deter future bad behaviors, punish the bad actor, or rehabilitate the bad actor?  Every law student in his or her first week of law school is posed that question, although it seems that no law professor can give a straight answer.  In an interesting, and maybe even surprising, decision, the 7th muddied the waters even further.


In Belleau v. Wall, Michael Belleau challenged the constitutionality of his Wisconsin sentence requiring him as a civilly committed sex-offender to wear an ankle monitoring device after his release in addition to registering as a sex-offender.  The federal district court ruled that this was an invasion of Belleau’s privacy.  Wisconsin appealed that decision to the 7th Circuit.  The 7th Circuit overruled the district court’s decision holding that the burden on privacy is balanced against the gain to society as the test for such a monitoring program to stand.  The Court reasoned that Belleau’s own actions had already severely curtailed” his privacy; thus, the requirement of the ankle monitor was not unduly burdensome.


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