Louisiana Law Will No Longer Force Sex Workers to Register as Sex Offenders
I’d previously posted about how an 1805 law that criminalizes “unnatural copulation” (often taken to include oral and anal sex) has been used to force sex workers (especially trans women and racial minorities, who are disproportionately convicted), to be added to the sex offender registry. Not only that, but once on the registry, there were some far more dire consequences that went with the designation:
This law has cost the plaintiffs in Doe v. Jindal dearly. They must carry a state driver’s license and identification card which features the words “SEX OFFENDER” printed in bright orange capital letters. They have had to send postcards to neighbors, schools, parks, community centers, and churches announcing themselves as sex offenders and disclosing their names and addresses. Their photographs, names, and addresses also appear on the online sex offender registry.
Some of the women who have joined this lawsuit as plaintiffs have been denied access to homeless shelters and drug treatment because those facilities won’t accept sex offenders. As one woman explained: “When I call about a job, I have to ask if they will hire sex offenders.” The answer is generally predictable. And as another woman pointed out: “When you mail those cards it’s so humiliating. People kill you for that.” More than one person has said that they fear for their safety.
Yesterday, a law was signed that reduces the “Crime Against Nature” penalties to misdemeanors. Several organizations have been working on this, and deserve thanks.
But the trouble is not over for those previously convicted:
In a statement from the NO Justice Project released after the law was signed, Davida Finger, Assistant Clinical Professor at Loyola said, “We welcome this change in the law, which finally brings Louisiana in line with every other state in the country. But the injustice still persists. Almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in New Orleans are on the registry because of a Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) conviction. They too should receive the benefit of this change in the law and be removed from the sex offender registry.”
Women With A Vision Executive Director Deon Haywood added, “We will continue to fight for justice for all those still living under the penalties of the past. There is still serious work to be done.”
“The grassroots and national leadership of Women with a Vision in tirelessly raising this issue for the past three years is nothing short of heroic,” said Andrea Ritchie, co-counsel in Doe v. Jindal, police misconduct attorney and expert on U.S. policing of women and LGBT people. “This victory is a product of collaboration between community groups, legal advocacy organizations and legislators seeking justice on behalf of the women and LGBT youth suffering from the discriminatory effects of SCAN – it is clear that community organizing can make real change.”
Women With A Vision urges those who have SCAN charges on their record and currently are on the registry to contact them at 504.301.0428.