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|JIndal signs bill to crack down on sexual predators|
Three of the bills originated from local legislators
Gov. Bobby Jindal this week signed nine bills into law that he says will help crack down on sexual predators and make Louisiana's children safer.
Jindal said these new laws build on the measures passed in 2008 to protect children from sex offenders.
"Our goal in this package of legislation was again to send a message to folks everywhere — that we will not tolerate crimes against children in Louisiana. Criminals work quickly to get around the law — and we have to be just as swift to modify our existing laws and pass new laws to ensure that our children are kept safe from these monsters. By signing these bills, we have yet again reinforced our commitment to making Louisiana the absolute safest place in the world to raise a family."
Jindal signed the following nine bills into law: HB 366 by Rep. Ernest Wooton; HB 741 by Rep. Austin Badon; HB 476 by Rep. Patrick Connick; HB 570 by Rep. Frank Hoffmann; SB 94 by Sen. Jack Donahue; SB 145 by Sen. A.G. Crowe; HB 703 by Rep. Kay Katz; HB 784 by Rep. Kay Katz; and SB 238 by Sen. Willie Mount.
State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said, "The Louisiana State Police will continue its efforts to identify and apprehend every individual in this state who participates in the sexual exploitation of our children. Let our message be clear. My troopers and our law enforcement partners will find you and bring you to jail. Now, through the work of Gov. Jindal and the Legislature, the consequences are even greater."
HB 366 adds penalties when sex offenders refuse or fail to submit to mandatory electronic monitoring and it extends the scope of consideration for this requirement to include an evaluation of every sex offender and child predator required to register under state law.
Jindal said this new law will increase the penalties on sex offenders who take off their electronic monitors by giving the Division of Probation and Parole the authority to assess additional penalties - including a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for two to 10 years without benefit or parole or probation for a first offense. It also includes a fine of $3,000 and imprisonment from five to 10 years without parole or probation for subsequent failures to adhere to electronic monitoring requirements.
HB 741 strengthens the sexual misconduct reporting requirements for school governing authorities to require school boards to disclose the abuse or neglect of special education students by a former employee, and it provides requirements for teachers to self-report investigations and findings of sexual misconduct when they apply for employment and penalties for those who fail to adhere to these requirements.
HB 476 prohibits sexual contact between educators and students up to age 21.
Jindal said the new law also amended the 1,000-square-foot radius law for sex offenders to clarify what type of care facilities are off limits. It also added playgrounds, public swimming pools, or free standing video arcade facilities to areas where sexual offenders are prohibited from establishing residence when convicted of a crime against a victim thirteen-years-old or younger under certain aggravating circumstances.
The new law also strengthens restrictions on convicted child sex offenders' ability to volunteer for activities involving children, and prohibits sex offenders convicted of a sex offense with a child under the age of 13 from owning a day care facility or participating on the board of one.
HB 570 prohibits electronic communication between school employees and students for any purpose unrelated to educational services. The law also sets up consequences for school employees who violate policies on electronic communications with students, including their termination of employment.
SB 94 adds the crime of molestation of a juvenile involving an educator to the existing molestation of a juvenile statute. This law gives prosecutors the option to prosecute and/or sentence with enhanced penalties in cases where the molestation of a juvenile involved an educator.
The new law also puts a penalty in place for school employees who fail to report to their school employer within 48 hours after their conviction or plea of no-contest to certain crimes. Currently, the law requires this self-reporting, but there is no penalty for failing to report and therefore no way to enforce the reporting.
SB 145 creates the crime of "unauthorized use of a wireless router system" for the purpose of downloading uploading or selling pornography involving juveniles.
HB 703 authorizes the Department of Social Services (DSS) to conduct criminal background checks on department employees.
HB 784 authorizes the DSS to cross-reference the State Central Registry against Louisiana's child abuse cases prior to hiring department employees who will deal with the investigation of child abuse or neglect, have supervisory or disciplinary authority over children, or have direct care of a child or perform licensing surveys.
SB 238 provides sole statutory authority to the DSS to issue and revoke childcare licenses to make sure child residential and day care centers are safe for kids.