Thursday, January 21, 2010

First They Came for the Guns

Her Crime? Sex Work in New Orleans
New Orleans city police and the district attorney’s office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers like Tabitha as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”—a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver’s license with the label “sex offender” printed on it. Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, according to Doug Cain, a spokesperson with the Louisiana State Police. And of those convicted of a crime against nature, 78 percent are Black and almost all are women…
To make it easier to prosecute, the Louisiana Legislature made challenging the sentence in court a sentencing enhancement.
“The way Louisiana’s habitual offender law works, if you challenge your sentence in court and lose, and it’s a third offense, the mandatory minimum is 20 years. The maximum is life,” he explained.
The Sex Offender Registry was, arguably, a useful tool. However, by adding people who are not a threat, whatever effectiveness it may have had is diluted. Instead of concentrating on the small number of truly dangerous perverts, resources are being used up tracking prostitutes. This means fewer resources tracking rapists and child molesters.  It also means greater public contempt for the registry itself.

In the aftermath of Katrina the NOPD disarmed honest citizen making them easier victims for looters. The same bunch of idiots are now making it easier for pedophiles and rapist to slip between the cracks and commit their crimes

New Orleans Police Department:  Enabling the criminal at every opportunity.

H/T to Radley Balko

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