June 27, 2012

New sex offender law may not be effective

6-26-2012 Louisiana:

While protecting children from predators is a top concern for government officials, new state laws regarding convicted sex offenders may have missed the mark, some experts say.

Measures passed in the last legislative session require convicted sex offenders and child predators to disclose their criminal standing on Facebook or any social media website, beginning Aug. 1.

The law is an extension of an existing regulation that requires those found guilty of aggravated incest, rape and pornography concerning minors to register with officials in their communities.

State Rep. Vincent Pierre said he voted in favor of the law because it will help individuals easily identify sex offenders.

"It will protect children and families from predators," Pierre said.

Pearson Cross, head of the political science department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said identifying sexual offenders is an important issue, but he questions whether the law will be effective, whether officials will be able to implement it.

"It is a feel-good law, but it is a vain attempt to constrain sexual predators," Cross said.

Cross is not against the law, he said.

"How effective it will be is an open question."

The issue is difficult and complicated to fully resolve, Cross said.

Local attorney Alfred Boustany II said the state still needs to find a long-term solution.

"We seem to be pushing the problem farther away (rather) than confronting it," Boustany said. "We have done a great job protecting children, but we have done a poor job integrating convicted individuals back into society."

Louisiana needs comprehensive laws not only to protect children, but also to prevent the crime from recurring, Boustany said.

"Most of them will be back on the street again," Boustany said. "It is not good to have them out there doing nothing, risking (that) they'll become offenders again."

Boustany said the government should create programs to help integrate convicts back into communities under the guidance of experts.

"If they are going to get out of jail, we need to create a rehabilitation program for them so they can become productive members of society," Boustany said.

According to UL assistant communication professor Do Kyun Kim, the government should focus on prevention instead of punishment.

"As long as a person is released from the prison, which means they already paid what they have to pay, the person should have at least an opportunity to overcome their previous wrong doings instead of continuously being oppressed until passing away," Kim said via email.

"In other words, we have to have a clear cut between how much the society charges for sex crimes and how the society gives previous sex offenders an opportunity to be a lawful person after they are released from prison." ..Source.. by Claire Caillier

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