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January 31, 2009

Louisiana Governor proposes taking sex offender mania to new heights

It is both noteworthy and worrisome that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who is viewed by everyone as a rising star in the Republican party, has decided to propose legislation that would take the manic panic about sex offenders to new heights.  This local story provides the basic details:

If a day care owner knowingly allows a registered sex offender to come onto the facility's property, that owner could be charged with a crime and face prison time, according to a proposed law by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The proposal was among several pieces of suggested sex crime legislation Jindal announced Thursday at the Caddo Parish Correctional Center. "This will resonate with the people here," Jindal said. His words came about a month after a local day care owner's son, a registered sex offender, was arrested after being accused of sex crimes with children at the facility.

Rodney Chism, son of Katherine Robbins, owner of the Smart Start Learning Center Express in Caddo Parish, was arrested in December on two counts of juvenile molestation. Robbins, who allegedly knew her son was a sex offender, could only be charged with perjury because there are no existing laws criminalizing such scenarios. The day care center was closed after authorities with the state Department of Social Services said Robbins had not performed adequate background checks on her employees.

Other proposals listed by the governor would strengthen many existing sex offender laws, such as making some of the most violent sex offenders submit to psychiatric evaluation after their prison and parole terms end. If a psychiatric evaluator determined the offender was likely to commit a crime again, the change would mean a district attorney could request indefinite, forced evaluation of that person until he or she was deemed to be no longer a threat.

This story provides yet another example of the one-way ratchet of criminal laws and the potential harm of legislative reactions to one awful crime.  Unless very carefully crafted and limited, a law making it a felony for a day care owner to even allow any registered sex offender to come onto the facility's property could (and likely would) have a lot of unforeseen consequences for both day care operators and families.  Especially since residency restrictions, and GPS tracking, and laws criminalizing a failure to register as a sex offender have had a variety of unexpected and negative consequences, I hope Bobby Jindal and his team have really thought through all the potential ramifications of what he is proposing here.

January 31, 2009 at 11:13 AM | Permalink


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I don't think Jindal's proposal would have any "unforeseen consequences." They're all utterly foreseeable, which is why it's a dumb idea.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jan 31, 2009 11:34:06 AM

Amen Doug. I'm sick of people confusing "Being Tough on Crime" with making our communities safer places.

For the last several decades discussion about crime in this county has been a grandiose morality play rather than an honest dialogue. Thanks for consistently using your soapbox to remind us that rather than using crime to work out our neuroses, we could instead construct thoughtful and effective public policies that make our lives safer and healthier.

Posted by: dm | Jan 31, 2009 2:15:02 PM

This law, or proposal, like all other similar pieces of legislation are just examples of polititians being able to boast to the voters... see, I'm tough on crime..." Or as it was put more poeticially... "Those in power to stay in power must ever convince that the wolf is ever at the door.." Maciavelli

Posted by: Mike Watson | Jan 31, 2009 2:49:47 PM

Wouldn't it be way easier to just force people we don't like to get a full face tattoo or some other distinguishing mark that would be difficult to hide?

Why must we continue to play these games of one upmanship? Somehow I don't think the correct answer is to be found either going forward on the current path or turning around going back where we came from. We need to turn 90 degrees and strike out in a new direction.

(And yes the tattoo bit is intended to be sarcastic.)

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jan 31, 2009 4:03:34 PM

"could only be charged with perjury because there are no existing laws criminalizing such scenarios."

There isn't a single existing child endangerment charge that could apply? Really? I doubt a prosecutor would even need much creativity to come up with _something_.

Posted by: Rika | Jan 31, 2009 4:22:41 PM

Rita. Of course they could come up with something. But if they did, how could they want a big stink about not being able to?

"because there are no existing laws criminalizing such scenarios"

Of course, because any prosecutor worth his or her salt would take an existing law and apply it to that scenario, such as child endangerment. But there is no political gain in announcing that a prosecutor is simply performing her normal duties.

Posted by: Daniel | Jan 31, 2009 5:32:13 PM

Actually, why not make it a felony for a day care facility owner to not be able to forsee the future and stop someone from committing an offense? I sure hope we stop electing these grand-standing fascists into office for crying out loud! How Louisiana put a Republican into any office after Katrina is beyond me! Too many of my tax dollars are being spent on tracking "Romeo and Juliette" for having consensual sex in high school, yet I'm afraid when my mother has to leave her house at night. Screw this crap!

Posted by: George | Jan 31, 2009 8:16:29 PM

That's a different George above. I'm waiting to see how factual the story is. Usually the facts are greatly exaggerated and my guess is that banishment from the facility would not have prevented this. Sex offenders not working at child day care centers is probably a good idea, but any laws should be based on the facts rather than speculation and panic. After doing a Google of Rodney Chism, not a common name, the stories conflict. Of course, if some of the story is false, so what, it got the law passed.

Posted by: George | Feb 1, 2009 12:09:40 AM

Anyone who knows anything about Katrina has to know that Dem screwups caused the issues.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 1, 2009 9:47:18 AM

Im from New Orleans. A DEMOCRAT was not only Governor but also a Dem was mayor of New Orleans during Katrina. Get your trolling straight George.

Posted by: | Feb 1, 2009 1:21:26 PM

By excessively punishing one part of society (for votes), we are creating many more crimes, i.e.: by forced registration of sex offenders, we are 'thinking' safe, when in reality 90% of sex offenses are family or friends of family that are on the inside when the door is supposedly locking out the bad guy, thus their guard is down, thus a flourish of molestings in the news. Keep it up with the registration and blaming a few guys for all societal problems and the molesting rates will skyrocket even more! (Or hadn't you noticed...) Register ALL felons or none, or face molestings by many around you. ALL OR NONE! Simply one example: Drug pushers have sex with hundreds of minors (in trade for sex) but they never tell because the kids want more drugs, and if caught they never register for selling drugs yet they have the highest rate of molesting minors!!! Another example: Within the state of the Columbine shootings there were 17 laws against guns in schools. Afterwards they passed seven more laws about no guns on school property. Did you notice that there have been 23 school shootings AFTER it was publicised so much by politicians wanting to pass more laws just to look good (but putting the 'shooting' idea in peoples heads instead). Molesters are the same way...pass more laws, keep it in the news...and you challenge them to act! It's the politicians LYING about statistics that also cause the problem saying that there is a 60% recidivism rate for sex offenders after being caught - LIE! According to the Department of Justice sex offender have THE lowest rate of recidivism. If they do commit a crime later it's mostly trying to eat or rob a place because they lost their job, family, house, and any means to make a living. (I was falsely accused of molesting and I lost everything in my life, then my ex-wife says she's sorry. Some accusations only come up during dirty divorces too!) If you are intelligent enough to read my typing, learn this - CRIMINALS DO NOT CARE ABOUT LAWS, POLITICIANS DO! - Pass 10,000,000 laws on not carrying a gun into a school and they will come in hoards with guns! Harass the sex offender more and I GUARANTEE THAT THE MOLESTING RATE WILL CONTINUE TO GO UP EXPONENTIALLY!

Posted by: Making problem worse. | Feb 1, 2009 3:27:00 PM

I don't see this as problematic. The statute apparently requires proof of mens reas -- "knowingly" -- so culpability will be real. Why should be be concerned about day care operators who can't keep child molesters away from children?

Posted by: Usually smart not just tough on crime but disagree here | Feb 2, 2009 9:58:11 AM

"Why should be be concerned about day care operators who can't keep child molesters away from children?"

My objection doesn't come from "caring" about the daycare operator per se, but from the utter lack of need for another law.

There are already laws criminalizing the renting to sex offenders in certain zones, and laws criminalizing the housing of sex offenders who haven't registered. Now we shall criminalize permitting sex offenders into certain businesses. In Indiana, they're looking into criminalizing permitting one's children to be in the presence of a sex offender so CPS can take custody of the children even when there is no allegation of abuse.

If a sex offender rents a car to abduct a child--because his auto info is on the registry--who doubts the next legislative session would include bills to criminalize "knowingly" renting a vehicle to a sex offender? And requiring car rental agencies to run a routine check, and place a placard in the car declaring the presence of a sex offender?

Honestly, I can't think of a set of circumstances too outrageous for lawmakers to use as an excuse to not only further criminalize day-to-day behavior, but also criminalize the actions of NON-sex offenders.

Posted by: Rika | Feb 2, 2009 11:35:46 AM

If the guy had never been let out of jail then there would have never been a problem. Put them away for life. call 318-758-0000

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Posted by: orierdews | Mar 25, 2009 7:41:06 AM

it is becoming harder and harder to even understand the Sex Offender laws and requirements and restrictions . it seems to one extreme, and yes grand standing self fullment legislation occurs every session,

to make this short, we see all kinds of requirements for sex offenders, yet all sex offenders are not equal in that some are harming babies and others are sheer young love,or even homosexual love, the latter being consensual.

our legislature has yet to add many new stipulations to the revised statutes that concern one with child molestation, and until the legislature changes teh revised statute to specific language, in terms and requirements that one might comprehend, then they are truly wasting our tax dollars by heating up the legislatative and senate chambers with HOT AIR

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Posted by: KHELD | Jun 30, 2009 4:33:34 PM

hi im quinton brooks and im a sex offender

Posted by: quinton | Sep 27, 2009 1:04:27 AM

I'm not for or against sex offenders, but I do believe that these laws that Jindal is proposing are a little harsh. I look at it throught a teenagers point of view. Where I grew up it was always the younger girls or boys hitting on the older guys an girls because they where cool and if you "hung out" with them then you where being noticed. Most adults do not set bondries for their children. They do not restrict their child's : internet access, phone privliages, and in some cases the parents do not care what the child is doing as long as they are out of their hair an do not bring the cops home ( as my parent does an tells me.) I just don't think its all the other persons fault, because in todays society parents let their children dress however they want, do whatever they want, an act how every they want. An in small town cases nine times out of ten that person gets labled because someone who has a connection dislikes that person or a teenager wants to ruin a persons life because they can't have them.
I write this because it is true. I sit in a class room full of teen girls. An the more a guy pushes them away the more they try. It's sicking to hear it an not be able to do anything about it because when I did talk to someone it's always the same story ( a younger child or teenage female will always been seen as the weeker person. An in a young males point of view should know better.)

Posted by: student | Mar 22, 2010 3:37:33 PM

Gotta love the logic that "making problem worse" uses. So let's see, outlawing something just makes it happen more, huh? Just because you got screwed in your divorce by abuse of an existing law doesn't mean the whole world should stop passing laws. Idiot.

Posted by: Don | Sep 11, 2010 5:47:08 PM

I am sad to say I have a conviction of a sex crime. I have done all that I was required to do as a sex offender. Now that my time is up, there is no one who knows what must be done to exit the system. I know I messed up and have taken full responsibility for what happened. Now have I fulfilled the posted laws, I am being told that the law has changed.
It is no longer ten years of registrtion and staying within the law, it is now fifteen years, and I am subject to the fifteen years. I also say that the law has changed, and I should have a misdemeanor instead of a felony conviction since the law has changed. I understand that the law is trying to protect the people, but when it fails to protect all the people are we being just.

Posted by: Ricky Thomas | Feb 6, 2012 6:11:54 PM

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