Use of Contraceptives as a Condition of Supervised Release Struck Down!

Just when you think you’ve heard it all! Christopher Harris has had a very prolific life, both personally and professionally, First the professional accomplishments—he’s amassed a criminal record that is so significant that he was sentenced as an armed career criminal (ACCA) for his possession of a firearm as a felon. Consequently, he’s a ward of the BOP until November 1, 2026.

Next the personal accomplishments—he’s fathered 10 children out of wedlock with seven different women. At his sentencing hearing on the ACCA case, the district court found that Harris’ prolific procreation was “creating a very serious social problem” that was “more serious than a lot of the things that we do deal with on conditions of supervised release.” As a result the court added a special condition of supervised release requiring Harris to have “no unprotected sex activities without probation office approval during the period of supervised release.” Imagine if you were a probation officer attempting to enforce this condition in 2026 after Harris has been down for 15 years.

Later, the court attempted to modify the special condition to say that Harris “shall use contraceptives before engaging in sexual activity that may otherwise cause pregnancy unless such use would violate his religious scruples or is expressly rejected by his sexual partner.” This “modification” made the condition of supervision as clear as mud and far more enforceable, don’t you agree?

Well, the Eighth Circuit had enough of the Big Brother act and found the special condition was not reasonably related to the statutory factors set forth in § 3583(d), was not related to the nature and circumstances of Harris’s offense, and wouldn’t serve as a deterrent to his future criminal activity. Consequently, the condition was struck down as one that exceeded the district court’s authority.