Louisiana Christmas not so jolly for parents on the registry

Originally published November 13, 2012, at houmatoday.com

By Sandy . . . Sex offenders are a topic guaranteed to push the limits of any discussion. The range of those limits tops out with feelings, usually worded with as many expletives as possible, that anyone who is on a sex offender registry should be taken out and shot. The fact that this has actually occurred, and more than once, is proof that at least some of those advocates aren’t just swaggering verbal bullies but are willing to follow through with actual murder.

More and more, however, discussions on the topic reveal that a large segment of society is questioning a registry that grows disproportionately larger and registers children as young as nine and offenses as benign as childish play and as common though ill-advised as consensual teen sex.

Adding to the level of intensity are studies and reports from government bodies and academics alike showing a number of findings that contradict the value of a public registry and call into serious question the wisdom of maintaining it at staggering costs that are bankrupting state after state. These findings include such things as recidivism rates for former offenders that are remarkably low, the fact that roughly 95 percent of new sex offenses are committed by first time offenders, and, most tragically, the fact that virtually all sexual crime against children is committed, not by some stranger already registered for a previous sexual offense, but by family members, peers, and others who are well known to their young victims and have relationships with them.

All of these issues are brought to the forefront when jurisdictions across the nation are making headlines for their efforts in keeping children safe from registered sex offenders on Halloween. Halloween has come and gone, and no children anywhere were harmed or, as far as anyone knows, even approached by such an offender. This includes the thirteen states in which there are no mandates in place regarding sex offenders and Halloween; it includes the many jurisdictions and counties where no such mandates exist even though others in the same state have them. And it includes going back as many years as records have been kept. Even though there is no police report of a child being attacked on Halloween by a registrant, ever, some states and counties choose to dedicate great resources to protecting children at Halloween from them. And the result is their success rate is exactly the same as it is in the counties and states that spent not a penny: 100 percent success rate for all.

Encouraged by such a victory, one state at least, Louisiana, has extended the Halloween ban for registered offenders to encompass other holidays in which children can be involved. One fact of note is that these bans, like the Halloween ban, target everyone on the registry even though many of those offenses were non-child related. And even more disturbing because it appears to be in serious violation of our Constitution, the bans apply to everyone required to register even though many are no longer under supervision such as parole or probation.

The state law on holiday restrictions for persons on the registry states: “Every person currently required to register who has been convicted of or who pleads guilty to a sex offense is prohibited from using or wearing a hood, mask or disguise of any kind with the intent to hide, conceal or disguise his identity on or concerning Halloween, Mardi Gras, Easter, Christmas, or any other recognized holiday for which hoods, masks, or disguises are generally used. It shall also be unlawful to distribute candy or other gifts on or concerning Halloween, Mardi Gras, Easter, Christmas, or any other recognized holiday for which generally candy is distributed or other gifts given to persons under eighteen years of age.“

Every registrant who gives an Easter basket or a candy egg, a Santa cookie or a Christmas present of any sort to his own minor children or grandchildren, or to nieces or nephews, will be in violation of the law.

I find that extremely disturbing. I know many registrants with young children, several of whom are on the registry for having sex, back in high school, with the girlfriend who for years now has been wife and mother of those children. Thankfully, none of them lives in Louisiana, but I am certain there must be similar situations there.

It is abhorrent that, in an effort guaranteed to grab headlines and votes, the protection of children is used in a situation where there is no risk to them to begin with, and even more abhorrent that it is done to the detriment of other children who suffer the negative consequences of daddy or mommy not being allowed in family participation of those holidays that make the memories that help shape children’s lives.

I only hope that in Louisiana this year no child’s memory includes the reality of Daddy being arrested and taken to jail because he was seen buying his child a Christmas present or giving him or her a candy cane.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #61310 Reply
      Sandy Rozek
      Sandy Rozek

      Originally published November 13, 2012, at houmatoday.com By Sandy . . . Sex offenders are a topic guaranteed to push the limits of any discussion. Th
      [See the full post at: Louisiana Christmas not so jolly for parents on the registry]

    • #61315 Reply
      Nena Eschete

      I live in Louisiana, and yes, it’s ridiculous. I am so sick and tired of the continuous prejudice and umbrella status on All sex offenders. I do so pray one day, people will care enough to really look into many of these convictions and understand the horror that is put upon not only the offender, but their families. To understand the true fear that these men and women go through when basically forced to admission to avoid spending years in prison. To understand and care about another human being.

    • #61332 Reply

      Restrictions on observance of Christmas should be an issue easy to win since this is CLEARLY AND UNDENIABLY A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY. This gets into all sorts of 1st Amendment issues. If NARSOL is willing to challenge Halloween restrictions, then there should be no problem with NARSOL jumping on this infringement of 1ST AMENDMENT FREEDOM OF RELIGION violation. Surely we can’t sit by and let this sort of abuse go unanswered. I can’t fathom the prejudice, hatred, cruelty, and sheer spite behind denying a family the RIGHT TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.

    • #61334 Reply

      My community supervision officer told me straight-up they DON’T EVEN TRY TO MESS WITH CHRISTMAS BECAUSE IT IS A CLEAR-CUT CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY. This is a winnable issue. You can win it on the Constitutional merits alone, however, it would take a hard-boiled federal judge beyond imagination to say it’s rational or OK to punish the children of registrants by denying them Christmas like every other child. Repeating myself, why hasn’t NARSOL been all over this one in court? This is as clear-cut a First Amendment violation as are the Halloween signs.

    • #61336 Reply

      Sandy, this law needs to be challenged in court NOT BY THE REGISTRANTS, BUT BY THEIR KIDS. There needs to be a class action suit on behalf of the registrants’ children and spouses that speaks to being punished by the state without having ever committed any sort of a crime. Can’t put up a tree? Can’t give gifts to their own kids? That’s an over-reach that should have been challenged in 2012 when this article was printed.

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