STATE

Jindal highlights priorities for cracking down on sex offenders

Staff Reports
Governor Bobby Jindal speaks in Lake Charles about cracking down on sex offenders.

A delegation of southwest Louisiana legislators and a contingency of local law enforcement officers joined Governor Bobby Jindal in Lake Charles Monday afternoon as he discussed his legislative priorities for cracking down on sex offenders in the next legislative session.

“I want the message to go out loud and clear,” said Jindal, “If you intend to break the law, if you intend to hurt a child, you better not do it here in Louisiana. Here, our justice will be swift and our penalties will be tough.”

“Our goal is to make Louisiana the safest place in the world to raise a family.”

Standing at a podium inside a 14th Judicial District courtroom, Jindal outlined the seven legislative priority areas for tightening laws and penalties on sex offenders that will be the basis for several bills in the upcoming legislative session set to begin in April.

Those areas include establishing a next step civil commitment program, imposing penalties when sex offenders fail to submit to electronic monitoring, strengthening restrictions on where sex offenders can work and creating an affirmative duty to inform potential employers of a predatory past, strengthening reporting requirements on sex offenders who volunteer for activities involving children or youth, keeping children safe in school, criminalizing the hijacking of wireless routers for unlawful activity, and supporting the “Protect Louisiana’s Children Act” authorizing the revocation of state licenses from childcare facilities in protection from sexual predators.

In the upcoming legislative session, Jindal will propose allowing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals to establish a civil commitment program to treat sex offenders upon the completion of their sentence.

Those entering this program will have been convicted of incest, crimes against nature, indecent behavior with juveniles, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, and sexual battery of the infirm, among others.

As part of this program, if perpetrators of these crimes remain a threat after their sentence, according to mental health experts, the district attorney can then petition a judge to commit them for treatment where they would be retained involuntarily until the underlying mental health issue is resolved.

Currently, there are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties requiring the worst sex offenders to submit to electronic monitoring after they have served their full prison sentence.

The governor will work to define electronic monitoring as a requirement for those registered sex offenders that are still deemed to be a threat to local communities, even after they serve their time.

Failure to comply with these requirements will mean a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of two to ten years without parole. A second failure to comply will mean a fine of $3,000 and imprisonment for five to 20 years without parole.

As well, Jindal proposes legislation to toughen current law that says a sex offender is prohibited from working where there is “significant” contact with children, changing “significant” to “any” contact with children. This change will clarify that sex offenders are outlawed from being around children.

Notification requirements may also be increased for sex offenders so that they are required to notify their employer as well as their neighbors.

Current law requires registered sex offenders who provide “recreational instruction” to minors after parole to post a notice in the facility, but there are no prohibitions on volunteering beyond parole.

Jindal is proposing legislation to increase the notification requirements for sex offenders so that they must provide notice that they are a sex offender when they serve as a volunteer interacting with children even after their parole period has ended. This legislation will extend the restrictions in current law for parole requirements to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life, depending on the severity of the crime.

Jindal will also be proposing legislation to improve current law, taking all available measures to protect children especially when they are entrusted in the state’s care while they are at school.

“I think our governor is on the right track in regards to putting our children first,” said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, “I think he is taking the right steps toward protecting our children.”