Sex offender registry purge long overdue
It only took Louisiana 200 years to make the distinction between prostitutes and perverts.
The Associated Press reported that hundreds of people who were convicted of soliciting oral or anal sex for money under Louisiana’s “crime against nature by solicitation” law will have their names removed from the state’s sex offender registry following the settlement of a class-action lawsuit.
U.S District Judge Martin Feldman on Tuesday approved the settlement agreement between the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell’s office.
The settlement doesn’t apply to people convicted of soliciting sex from a minor or anyone who was convicted of another sex offense subject to registration. State officials have up to 30 days to make an initial determination of who is entitled to be removed from the registry.
Feldman ruled last year that state lawmakers had no “rational basis” for requiring people to register as sex offenders if they were convicted of violating the law. The judge said the plaintiffs wouldn’t have had to register if instead they had been convicted of soliciting sex for money under the state prostitution law.
The state Legislature amended the 200-year-old law in 2011 so that anyone convicted of a “crime against nature by solicitation” no longer will be required to register. But the legislative change didn’t apply to hundreds who already were registered.
Undoubtedly, prostitution, under any circumstance, is a crime. However, there are undeniable differences between an adult who sells his or her own body for sexual activity and those who sexually assault others or target minors for sexual purposes. It truly is sad to know hundreds of people now, and thousands in the past, have been labeled as sex offenders when in reality, they only hurt themselves, not others.
On top of this, Louisiana residents follow sex offender registries to determine the safety of their families, schools and neighborhoods. Most people would not feel threatened or unsafe by knowing someone convicted of soliciting sex for money lived in their neighborhood. Knowing the guy down the road was convicted of molestation is a different story.
Thankfully, now that the law has been amended, the public can know where the actual threat lies, not who is targeted due to the interpretation of a centuries-old law.
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