Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Jeff Thompson sponsored a new law requiring sex offenders to list their status on social media sites. Story highlights New law says sex offenders, child predators must reveal convictions on sites The law expands upon existing sex offender registration laws The new law, effective August 1, is the first of its kind in nation, legislator says Last year a Louisiana law that banned sex offenders from the Internet was struck down A new Louisiana law requires sex offenders and child predators to state their criminal status on their Facebook or other social networking page, with the law's author saying the bill is the first of its kind in the nation.
Jeff Thompson, a Republican from Bossier City, Louisiana, says his new law, effective August 1, will stand up to constitutional challenge because it expands sex offender registration requirements, common in many states, to include a disclosure on the convicted criminal's social networking sites as well. Thompson, an attorney and a father of a year-old daughter and 9-year-old son, said he hopes other states will follow Louisiana.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have been removing sex offenders from their web pages for years, but Thompson said the law is designed to cover any possible lapses by social networking sites. Bobby Jindal earlier this month, builds upon existing sex offender registration laws, in which the offender must notify immediate neighbors and a school district of his or her residency near them, Thompson said.
The law states that sex offenders and child predators "shall include in his profile for the networking website an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics A few states such as Illinois and Texas even outright prohibit sex offenders, as a condition of parole, from accessing social networking websites, the group said.
The Louisiana law is the latest addition to statutes requiring public notice and registrations by sex offenders, Thompson said. If you look at how common it is, that's 24 hour a day, seven days a week for somebody to interact with your children and your grandchildren. The site's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities already bars sex offenders from using it. In the past, Facebook has worked with various states on legislation to help law enforcement find, prosecute and convict sexual predators attempting to use the site.
Thompson consulted prosecutors and the attorney general in Louisiana when drafting the law because last year, a federal court struck down a Louisiana law that outright banned sex offenders and child predators from using Internet. The court found the law too broad, Thompson said. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sought to block the enforcement of that state law that tried to limit sex offenders' use of the Internet, arguing that it infringes on constitutional rights.
The law had targeted registered sex offenders convicted in crimes involving children and prohibited the "using or accessing of social networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks," according to the legislation that was signed into law in June Today, sex abuse victims are less alone Louisiana lawmakers, however, have not given up on that stricter law.
In fact, a revised version was passed by the Louisiana legislature and signed into law in May, but Thompson is skeptical that latest version can survive a court challenge. The revised, new ban prohibits certain registered sex offenders from intentionally using a social networking website, Gov. Jindal said in a statement. Said Thompson about that new law: That's one of the reasons that I created the bill I did. I'm not trying to create a ban.
I'm just trying to create an expansion of the existing notice requirements.