Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sex workers and Crimes Against Nature debate continues

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 5:45 PM

In June, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 141, which says a person convicted two or more times of soliciting a Crime Against Nature wouldn't have to register as a sex offender. That bill, effective this month, removes Solicitation for Crimes Against Nature (SCAN) from the sex offender registry. In New Orleans, 40 percent of people on the registry are there from a Crimes Against Nature conviction, according to the Times-Picayune. (Of that number, 78 percent are black and most are women.)

But the Louisiana Justice Institute says state lawyers aren't happy with that decision. Tomorrow at U.S. District Court, the Center for Constitutional Rights will argue that the law "does not apply to the hundreds of people currently on the registry solely because they were prosecuted under the statute in the past." The center will present its oral arguments in the case tomorrow.

By the way: Sex workers not picked up for Crimes Against Nature don't have to register. For more than 200 years, oral and anal sex have been considered criminal actions in Louisiana — Crimes Against Nature is defined as "the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal, except that anal sexual intercourse between two human beings shall not be deemed as a crime against nature when done under any of the circumstances described in R.S. 14:41, 14:42, 14:42.1 or 14:43. ... (and) the solicitation by a human being of another with the intent to engage in any unnatural carnal copulation for compensation."

The decision whether to charge a sex worker with a misdemeanor, or the felony Crime Against Nature, previously was left with arresting officers and prosecutors. The passage of H.B. 141 doesn't remove the Crimes Against Nature passage, but it puts punishment on equal footing with other prostitution charges. (Also, last year, New Orleans City Council gave a unanimous thumbs-up to a measure that "reclassifies" marijuana possession and prostitution as municipal offenses, which previously filled Criminal Court dockets.) But, like the center will argue, it does nothing for those already convicted.

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