Following Doe v. Caldwell, a federal class-action lawsuit filed last year by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and others, the state of Louisiana agreed to a settlement June 11 to remove hundreds of people from sex offender registries because of "crimes against nature" by solicitation (CANS) convictions.
People convicted under Louisiana's centuries-old law against CANS no longer have to register as sex offenders, due to a 2011 law that equalizes the penalties for prostitution and CANS — but the law was not retroactive. This settlement changes that.
Among the defendants in Doe v. Caldwell: Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson.
The settlement follows a 2012 ruling that found the CANS registration requirement unconstitutional based on the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Hundreds of people who were previously convicted of solicitation of crimes against nature remained on a long list of sex offenders, while people who have been convicted of prostitution never had to register. Opponents argued that the distinction singled out LGBT offenders. A 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Justice reported that LGBT people are more likely to be charged by New Orleans Police Department officers for CANS.
Deon Haywood, executive director of health advocacy group Women with a Vision, has made the CANS issue one of the organization's hallmark efforts. "I am overjoyed," she said in a statement. "This is truly an historic moment. Justice has prevailed and dignity has been restored to the women and men who have been denied their basic human rights for so long." — Alex Woodward