June 10, 2011

Legislature unanimously passes social networking ban for sex offenders

6-10-2011 Louisiana:

Sex offenders in Louisiana will soon no longer be allowed to have Facebook or MySpace pages or participate in any other social networking websites.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the bill, once signed into law, can withstand the constitutional testing it is sure to eventually face or even emerge in enforceable form after those challenges.

On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved (34-0) the bill that would prevent sex offenders from taking part in social networks. The bill would make it a crime to use networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks by anyone convicted of a list of sex offenses against a minor.

"It's not all sex offenders," said Rep. Ledricka Thierry, D-Opelousas, who proposed the bill. "It's for sex offenders who were convicted for pornography involving juveniles, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, video voyeurism and sex offense with a minor."

The bill also passed in the House unanimously, 76-0.

"It is definitely a good thing," 30-year-old Lafayette resident Eric Oubre said. "I don't think they should be allowed to be on social networking sites because of the risk they pose to young people. I definitely agree with the bill, because if they are allowed to have those pages, then it puts young kids in jeopardy. "

If Jindal signs off on it, as he is expected to, Louisiana would join New York, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Connecticut as states banning sex offenders from social networking sites.

"I know that North Carolina has caught 100 sex offenders since they've passed the law," Thierry said. "But unlike some of the states, this law actually has provisions that would allow a sex offender to access some sites."

But not everyone is in favor of the bill, including Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana Marjorie Esman.

"The bill is almost certainly a violation of federal law," Esman said, "and it is absolutely unenforceable. Any regulation of Internet is exclusively federal. States don't have the legal right to regulate in that area."

When contacted for comment on how they would enforce the bill, Lafayette Police Department Cpl. Paul Mouton declined comment, citing that the bill hasn't been written into law.

According to the bill, sex offenders could be granted access by probation and parole officers as well as judges.

"If they had a legitimate reason why they needed to access the sites, there are ways they can be granted permission," Thierry said. "We're not trying to single sex offenders out or prevent them from moving on with their lives, but my objective is the concern of children."

"The Internet is a good place to attract young and naive people," Iota resident Sonya Miller said. "It is definitely a good thing because someone has to look out for the children."

Lafayette resident Svonnie Trailer agreed with Esman, saying "everyone deserves a second chance."

"I really believe this is violating their rights," the 32-year-old Trailer said. "I think they should be allowed to be on social networks, but I also feel that they should be monitored."

But Tonia Bertrand of Iota strongly disagreed.

"This bill is a great thing," Bertrand said. "I believe sex offenders lost their rights when they committed those crimes. We have to protect our children. Cyber world is completely different, and unfortunately not for the better. As good as the Internet can be, it can really be harmful."

Thierry said so many children are beginning Facebook and MySpace pages at such a young age that something was needed to protect them.

"Anybody who has children should understand the necessity of this law," Thierry said.

"All of the kids that I've come into contact with, even as young as six years old, have told me they have Facebook pages. Even Facebook and MySpace have policies in place that sex offenders aren't allowed on their websites."

Esman says sex offenders should not be held to a different standard than any other criminal. "This isn't a second chance for sex offenders, because they have already completed the sentence for their action," Esman said. "We don't have laws like this in place for kidnappers, bank robbers or murders. They treat sex offenders more harshly even though their acts are no worse."

Thierry said she doesn't buy that argument.

"We have very strict penalties for murdering children," Thierry said. "There are life and even death sentences for murdering children. Child murderers aren't walking the street free. We take child kidnappers and murderers very seriously.

"Just because they have completed their sentence, that doesn't mean anything," Thierry continued. "People are sometimes placed on probation for 15 years after completing their sentence. We tell convicted felons that they can't have a gun, so why can't we keep sex offenders from having access to social networks? They've already demonstrated from previous acts that they can't be trusted. I don't want to give them the opportunity to prove to us they can't be again." ..Source.. by Eric Narcisse


Anonymous said...

Ah yes 2012 is around the corner and so is the elections wich means easy "political brownie points" for the loosers and of course i laugh at what an up hill battle there going to have if it becomes law.

Anonymous said...

So where is "social networking site" defined? Is LinkedIn a social networking site? I've been a member of LinkedIn for several years, and I have yet to see a child's profile on it.

Anonymous said...

Alas, more laws being passed by relentless persecution of sex offenders. Why is this happening?? Law makers have overwhelming support from the public and the courts to make any kind of law they can dream up against us. We are considered NOTHING in our society. Our lives are considered as garbage to our elected officials.And this is POST (after)
conviction,incarceration, and probation!! And the public will only say "This is what all you sex offenders get for what you did". It is all PUNITIVE and unreasonable
law.These laws have long since departed from the civil,regulatory
concept that they were founded on.