SCAN unduly harsh for victimless crime
Editor's note: In addition to the blog post mentioned below, Alex Woodward also followed up with a more in-depth print story: "Red Letter Day," Aug. 21.
In response to "Sex Workers and Crimes Against Nature debate continues" (www.blogofneworleans.com, Aug. 9): While state courts have equalized punishments for individuals convicted of prostitution and solicitation of a crime against nature, there are still hundreds of individuals in Louisiana remaining on sex offender registries for a now-defunct penalty. Louisiana's discriminatory and antiquated Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) statute unfairly targeted many individuals who already were vulnerable, especially African-American female sex workers.
Within a tallying period of September to October 2011, 383 individuals just in Orleans Parish were on state sex offender registries for a SCAN charge. While the mandatory sex offender registration component is no longer part of the punishment for SCAN, there are still hundreds of people living lives as registered sex offenders for a victimless, nonviolent crime. Of the 934 registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish, 41 percent have a SCAN charge that required him or her to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, 99 percent of all female registered sex offenders have been convicted of SCAN. African-Americans make up 80 percent of both the total population of registered sex offenders in Orleans and those convicted of SCAN. Lastly, 48 percent of those convicted of SCAN are African-American women.
Research shows that labeling individuals as sex offenders negatively affects opportunities for adequate housing, gainful employment, and access to social services. Additionally, registered sex offenders face numerous social consequences such as increased vulnerability, stigmatization, harassment, loss of family and peer support, and overall psychosocial stress. The fact that 41 percent of current registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish are on the state sex offender registry alongside individuals who have committed crimes against children and/or used violence or force, not only violates constitutional equal protection privileges but is also cruel and unusual punishment.
Remaining on sex offender registries makes an individual increasingly susceptible to continued involvement in the street economy, which severely limits a person's ability to maintain and negotiate a healthy and safe lifestyle and jeopardizes his or her capacity for personal self-sufficiency, self-efficacy and puts him or her at greater risk for HIV.
While the changes in the law no longer require sex offender registration, there are still hundreds at great risk who remain on sex offender registries. They can contact Women with a Vision Inc. (www.wwav-no.org), a New Orleans-based nonprofit that offers services to women and female-identified persons who have been convicted of SCAN.
Tulane School of Social Work students
Get it straight!
In reference to Blake Pontchartrain's column "What's going on with the Louisiana ArtWorks building?, Sept. 27," it is important for readers to know the facts. The Arts Council of New Orleans (ACNO) has not been involved in the Louisiana ArtWorks building for several years.
In mid-2007, ACNO determined to formally sever all institutional and financial relationships with Louisiana Artists Guild, the nonprofit that owns and administers Louisiana ArtWorks. The ACNO board's decision was made so that resources could be devoted to its central mission to meet the arts and cultural needs of New Orleans. At that time, the board also determined any further connection with Louisiana ArtWorks would place ACNO's finances at risk.
The financial prospects of ACNO suffered because of confusion about past and current relationships between ACNO and Louisiana ArtWorks. Much confusion still persists in the community about the relationship between the two organizations that now have been separated for more than four years. The Arts Council is dedicated to serving and being an advocate for regional artists, arts organizations and arts business in all creative disciplines.
Thomas F. Reese, chairman of the board
Pamela Reynolds Ryan, vice chairman
Thomas B. Lemann, secretary
Thomas F. Westervelt, treasurer
William H. Hines, immediate past chairman
Mary Len Costa, interim president and CEO
Arts Council of New Orleans
Stop the killing
I am a traveler. I have been living on the road selling my art for 30 years, loving almost everywhere I go. But with the recent shootings on/near the French Quarter, I chose not to stay (spend my money) in New Orleans.
New Orleans, in my opinion, is terrible. It's a dangerous place and needs to be cleaned up. I was here about 16 years ago and enjoyed it very much, but now? No way will I come back to your stink hole. I am sure the people of Covington appreciated my business.
Stop killing each other already!