Thursday, December 13, 2012

Crime Against Nature Law Back in Court

From our friends at Women With A Vision and Center for Constitutional Rights:
Fill the Court For Oral Arguments In the Case To Overturn Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature Law!

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 10:00 a.m
Federal District Court, 500 Poydras Street
Judge Feldman’s Court—Room C551

Many of you supported us during Doe, et al. v. Jindal, et al.-- a federal lawsuit filed against state officials in Louisiana, challenging the fact that a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation (CANS) conviction requires registration as a sex offender on the state sex offender registry.  On March 29, 2012, the Court ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor, agreeing that this registration requirement violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. The Court unambiguously ruled that it is unconstitutional to require someone to register as a sex offender solely because of a CANS conviction.

Yet almost 500 people remain on the registry.

So we’ve sued the state again, and we need your support. 

Doe, et al. v. Caldwell, et al. is a federal class action lawsuit seeking to remove from the sex offender registry the hundreds of people who are still forced to register solely as a result of a CANS conviction despite the March 29, 2012 ruling in Doe v. Jindal that deemed that practice unconstitutional.

In Louisiana, people accused of soliciting sex for a fee can be criminally charged in two ways: either under the prostitution statute, or under the solicitation provision of the Crime Against Nature statute.  This archaic statute, adopted in 1805, outlaws “unnatural carnal copulation,” which has been defined by Louisiana courts as oral and anal (but not vaginal) sex.  Police and prosecutors have unfettered discretion in choosing which to charge.  But a Crime Against Nature conviction subjects people to far harsher penalties than a prostitution conviction.  Most significantly, individuals convicted of a Crime Against Nature are forced to register as sex offenders.

The registry law imposes many harsh requirements that impacts every aspect of our clients’ lives.  For example, they must carry a state driver’s license or non-drivers’ identification document which brands them as a sex offender in bright orange capital letters.  They must disclose the fact that they are registered as a sex offender to neighbors, landlords, employers, schools, parks, community centers, and churches.  Their names, address, and photographs appear on the internet. 

Many of our clients have been unable to secure work or housing as a result of their registration as sex offenders.  Several have been barred from homeless shelters.  One has been physically threatened by neighbors.  And another has been refused residential substance abuse treatment because providers will not accept sex offenders at their facilities.

Our clients are not alone in being forced to register as sex offenders solely as a result of a Crime Against Nature by Solicitation conviction.  Indeed, almost 40 percent of registered sex offenders in Orleans Parish are on the registry as a result of such a conviction.  76 percent of these individuals are women, and 80 percent of them are African American.

CCR argues that being forced to register as a sex offender because of a Crime Against Nature conviction serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever.  As such, it is unjustifiable and unconstitutional.  CCR further contends that the only reason our clients are registered sex offenders is that they were convicted under the provisions of a 200-year-old statute that condemns non-procreative sex acts and sex acts traditionally associated with homosexuality, solely on grounds of moral disapproval.

Women With A Vision also spoke at the New Orleans City Council about the recent arson attack they faced. See the clip here.

No comments: