Just two years ago, we launched the NO Justice Project to challenge the use of Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature statute for prosecuting women engaged in sex work.
Today we gained our first major legislative victory: House Bill 141 (by Rep. Charmaine Marchand Stiaes) passed with only three dissenting votes! This bill seeks to remove Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) from the sex offender registry and make the penalties the same as prostitution. Next we are on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Stiaes is hoping to have our bill heard there as early as next week.
This is a huge step in our struggle for healing and justice with the women of Louisiana.
In Louisiana, women engaged in sex work are increasingly being charged under the felony-level SCAN statute. A SCAN conviction mandates 15-year registration as a sex offender. Along with having to send out cards to local schools and agencies whenever they move, anyone with a SCAN charge also faces a minimum $2,000 fine, with threat of incarceration for failure to pay.
At present, 97% of women registered as sex offenders in Orleans Parish are mandated to do so because of a SCAN conviction.
This law completely disconnects our women from what remains of a social safety net, making it impossible for them to recognize and develop their goals, dreams and desires. That is why our women are calling it ‘NO JUSTICE.’ And it is their words that we have taken as our organizing call.
For more information on House Bill 141, please see this article in the Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/05/those_convicted_of_soliciting.html
We will continue to keep you updated in our work to bring justice to the women of Louisiana.