Civil Liberties

New Orleans Cops, Prosecutors Tagging Prostitutes as Sex Offenders

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This is just horrendous:

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…

Tabitha has to register an address in the sex offender database, and because she doesn't have a permanent home, she has registered the address of a nonprofit organization that is helping her. She also has to purchase and mail postcards with her picture to everyone in the neighborhood informing them of her conviction. If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women. She is even prohibited from very ordinary activities in New Orleans like wearing a costume at Mardi Gras.

Merely an arrest—a conviction isn't required, nor does the arrest need to be sex-related—can add another 15 years to your time on the list. And challenging the charges will only make it worse.

Although some women have tried to fight the sex offender charges in court, they've had little success. The penalties they face became even harsher in 2006 when Congress passed the Adam Walsh act, requiring tier-1 (the least serious) sex offenders to stay in the public registry for 15 years. There's also an added danger to fighting the charges, according to Josh Perry, a former attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders office.  "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.

Thanks to John Cole for the tip.

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  1. Wow, thats just downright messed up dude. I mean seriosuly whats wrong with this kangaroo justice system!

    Jess
    http://www.web-privacy.pl.tc

  2. All this dilutes the seriousness of a truly heinous crime–child molestation. What’s the point if they’re going to toss prostitutes and the guy who mooned his fraternity into the mix?

    1. Child molestation is a tempest in a teapot. It is not a “crisis” and its occurence is not commonplace notwithstanding the bloviations of the scarlet letter society.

      The Amirault case is more the typical reality. False charges followed by prosecutorial misconduct and incarceration of the innocent.

      1. I think there’s some B.S. accusations out there, but I know several reliable people who claim to have been molested. Being the white, suburban punk that I am, that seems unlikely in the statistical sense if it’s actually a rare occurrence.

        1. Pro Lib-

          I am not saying that it never happens.

          When I was 14, a 21 year old, creepy, but idiot savantish, guy befriended a group of my friends who lived in close proximity to each other. He would drive us around, buy beer for us and drop us off at parties and then pick us up later.

          When one of us was the last person with him in his 1969 Buick Electra 225 (the “Gold Bomb”) after he had dropped off everbody else, the guy would ask, “do want to do a wrestle?”

          Obviously, none of us accepted the invitation. The guy was about 6’3 and close to 300lbs. Sure, he was creepy-but he was our transportation and our beer buyer.

          He would get his rocks off on things like leaving us outside of the entrance to the Navy base, in sub freezing tempatures, while he took his sweet time buying the brew.

          All of us knew that once we got our licenses, that would be the end of our association with the guy.

          1. holy shit! are you as creeped out looking back at this story as i was reading it? it’s like you were playing “hide the sausage” chicken with an offensive lineman.

          2. I didn’t know Senator Craig had an eating problem.

      2. It may not be “commonplace” but it’s not rare, either. What is rare is the involvement of strangers or very young children; stepfather’s and boyfriends of the mother being the more common offenders.

      3. Pro Lib said it was “serious” and “truly heinous”, not a “crisis”.

        1. As a parent, let me just add that I don’t understand why someone who molests a kid–and I’m not talking about the you-are-sixteen-I-am-seventeen variety–ever gets out of jail. That’s pretty high up the list of crimes you shouldn’t get a chance to repeat.

  3. Where do I submit “hattips?” I have to get the new SCOTUS ruling from MSNBC!!!!? Radley, where are you?

    1. Actually, I have the same question. The old e-mail address for that seems to be no more. Do I just bug the editors directly?

      1. They all have their wheelhouse so send it to the one most likely to give a shit.

        Bad cops go to Radley, money to Tim, health reform to Suderman, science to Bailey, guns to Doherty, sports or California to Matt, and all things leather to Gillespie.

        1. Don’t forget drugs to Sullum.

  4. The NOPD has more serious crimes to deal with than prostitution.

  5. I linked this last night on another thread but think it goes here as well. Alabama has a new bill in the legislature for kiddie stalkers.

  6. Libertarian zen koan: What percentage of Americans would have to get on the sex-offender registry before people would decide that, due to dilution, the whole thing is completely worthless?

    1. Wait, don’t tell me…..as many as are on the TSA’s no-fly list?

    2. Sadly, this will probably never happen. WAY too many people with children, upon hearing that X is a sex offender, will shuffle their children off behind closed doors with admonishments to NEVER talkt ot that man and run away the minute he comes near you. The parents themselves will see every nice gesture or friendly overture as a prelude to an assault on their child. The sex offender will never be given a chance. Thus, until the entire neighborhood is sex offenders, the parents will never know, and they will have moved out long, long ago.

      So I guess the answer is that the tipping point is when this craziness affects each non registered person personally. So, long story short: I +1 Epi’s 110%.

  7. Selling is legal.
    Fucking is legal.
    Why isn’t selling fucking legal?

    -George Carlin

    1. Because abstinence is easier to tax.

  8. Are the government street gangs that bored?

    1. No, they’re worried about getting downsized. IMO, supporting shit like is GROUNDS to be downsized.

  9. From what I’ve seen of New Orleans sex workers, unnatural copulation doesn’t even begin to cover it

  10. All this dilutes the seriousness of a truly heinous crime–child molestation. What’s the point if they’re going to toss prostitutes and the guy who mooned his fraternity into the mix? Giochi casa di Barbie
    Puzzle Giochi di Barbie

    1. Is plagiarism a step forward in bot intelligence, or a step back?

  11. Wait. There’s such a thing as “unnatrual copulation”? How? I mean . . . the law basically says “You’re doing it wrong.”?

    1. STEVE SMITH CONSUMMATE PRACTITIONER OF UNNATURAL COPULATION! LEARN FROM WARTY!

      1. Your ideas intrigue me, Epi. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      2. Are we talking about legfucking here? That won’t work too well with Steve Smith.

        1. Is that a play on that whole leg-cunt thing from SugarFree’s blog?

          1. I believe it’s a subset of this.

            1. Frotteurism refers to a paraphilic interest in rubbing, usually one’s pelvis or erect penis, against a non-consenting person for sexual gratification

              Huh. Dry hump rape. Truly, you loom large on these intertubez, Warty. Truly, you loom large.

  12. What are these prosecutors going to do to get laid if all the hookers leave Louisiana? Something tells me they haven’t thought this through.

    -jcr

    1. I dunno…beat their own wives a little harder?

    2. They probably aren’t getting laid–that’s why they are so upset about others getting it.

  13. if you challenge your sentence in court and lose, and it’s a third offense, the mandatory minimum is 20 years.

    That can’t possibly be constitutional. It attacks the defendant’s right to a fair trial.

    -jcr

    1. Three strikes laws. Are they unconstitutional?

    2. It’s completely unconsitutional for that reason, and also because the SCOTUS struck down all laws against “sodomy” and “crimes against nature” back in 2003–Lawrence v. Texas. Every law student knows these laws are unconstitutional and the fact that DA’s go ahead and prosecute anyway means there is a special section of hell reserved for them.

      1. I’m talking about the three strikes laws, not sodomy. Have they been struck down as unconstitutional?

        1. I was responding to John C. Randolph’s comment above yours–automatically increasing the penalty for fighting the charge is unconstitutional as the threat of such renders a guilty plea involuntary.

          Three strikes laws may or may not be unconstitutional depending on the law (cruel/unusual punishment).

  14. This is just going to drive up the price of a blowjob in New Orleans. Combat pay for hookers – genius move, NOPD!

    1. The cops don’t care, they’ll just get their freebies even more easily now that they have a bigger penalty to threaten the hookers with.

      -jcr

  15. On the bright side, Johns can now use the on-line offender database in lieu of the back page of the local free newspaper.

    1. It’s the new “Craig’s List”
      Guaranteed not to get filtered by your employer’s internet filters too!

    2. She also has to purchase and mail postcards with her picture to everyone in the neighborhood informing them of her conviction.

      Johns just have to check the mailbox. She’s being compelled to advertise.

  16. Am I to believe that NONE of the cops or prosecutors EVER participate in the unnatural copulation of oral sex with their wives/mistresses/secretaries?

    dammit Mr. Balko! you got my blood pressure dangerously high again. The more I chew on this, the more I get indigestion.

  17. If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women.

    Why do sex offenders get the only hurricaine shelter with hookers?

    Lucky sex offenders.

    1. No kidding. I figured it would be the hookers would be sent to the shelter with the cops and City Council, not the sex offenders.

      Hang on, I think I’m on to their nefarious scheme. . . .

  18. I’m figuring it’s a given that the number of “sex offenders” is eventually going to eclipse the number of murderers.

    1. Eventually?! I would’ve thought it’s been that way for milennia.

      1. Maybe I’m just trying to be optimistic, I have no data to go by.

  19. Another case of Child Sex Zealot insanity in action and innocent people paying for a victimless crime. Then, taxpayers paying for all of it. How can the police and prosecutors sleep at night? Check out The Zealot Witch Project, Child Sex Hysteria http://usaproblemsolver.blogsp…..teria.html

  20. If you believe that going to court over any issue, and losing, will result in a “3rd” conviction you might want to apply a little common sense to what other decisions you might make.

    As for the tag being affixed for arrest only? The ACLU would eat the state for lunch.

    Get real.

  21. Jpocali has posted very interesting question. I am also interested to know that if
    Selling is legal.
    Fucking is legal.
    Why isn’t selling fucking legal?

  22. Jpocali has posted very interesting question. I am also interested to know that if
    Selling is legal.
    Fucking is legal.
    Why isn’t selling fucking legal?

  23. She is even prohibited from very ordinary activities in New Orleans like wearing a costume at Mardi Gras.

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