Unnatural Copulation

New Orleans city police and the district attorney's office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in "unnatural copulation" -- a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney's office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex. Sex workers convicted of breaking this law are charged with felonies, issued longer jail sentences and forced to register as sex offenders. They must also carry a driver's license with the label "sex offender" printed on it.

Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, and of those, 78 percent are black and almost all are women.

Tabitha has to register an address in the sex offender database. She also has to purchase and mail postcards with her picture to everyone in the neighborhood informing them of her conviction. If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women. She is even prohibited from very ordinary activities in New Orleans like wearing a costume at Mardi Gras.

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25 Responses:

  1. iota says:

    God Bless America!

  2. neacal says:

    Ugh. Middle ages. We've never left 'em. :(

    I wish the other citizens would get up and report themselves as sex offenders, too. I'm sure some of them have had oral or anal sex...

    And in the meantime, real sex offenders get to hide in the masses of prostitutes. Completely dilutes the idea.

    This raises another question: if I want a prostitute, is it a safe bet to just go to the chick in my neighborhood that sent me a sex offender postcard? :)

    • jwz says:

      As the fact that she's on the registry, for whatever reason, has probably shut down all other possible employment options for the rest of her life -- yeah, not a bad bet.

    • xunker says:

      ..not to mention, YOUR tax dollars (assuming you're in the USA) are being used to do this.

      A friend of mine works for a company that publishes this data (and other statistics, crime and otherwise) on behalf of cities and police departments. These entities are given a mandate by, and funds from, the federal government to disburse this info and get it published as widely and effectively as possible. As an example of how gung-ho this publishing is, they have an iPhone app already.

      Meaning that while it may get the word out about Billy-Boy-Toucher who deserves it, it will also quickly, permanent and effectively ruin the life of anyone wrongfully entered. Also note that there are no 'degrees' to this info: both a serial rapist and someone who was accidentally caught urinating in public are tagged with the epithet "sex offender" with no further clarification.

      This is not to say I don't want to know if there is a pedophile living in my neighborhood and around my kids -- but it does mean that the people wielding these laws should be a damn sight more careful about how they do it.

      • fantasygoat says:

        If these people are really a danger, shouldn't they just be kept in jail?

        What's the point of "doing your time" if you're not actually free when it's over?

        The whole registry idea is beyond moronic.

  3. dossy says:

    Dude, New Orleans has totally solved the hooker marketing problem. Who needs shady newspaper "adult services" sections or craigslist when they get to mail you postcards WITH THEIR PICTURE AND ADDRESS on it! Required, by LAW!

    This is probably the single biggest boon for sex workers in America. When will we get our hooker registry database in all 50 states? As soon as Google indexes it and integrates Google Image Search on top of it ... combine that with Google Local Search and/or Froogle so I can sort by price ...

    • 0ntological says:

      Because this isn't a sodomy law, unfortunately.

      • ronaldscott says:

        IANAL, but I am pretty sure it is. I'm pretty sure it's an application of the law GLAPN refers to here: If that's the case (again, I'm not sure but it sure looks like it,) a legal challenge might be enough to deal with all this silliness for good. If you look at the timeline at that article, nothing's been done legislatively on this since well before the US Supreme Court weighed in.

        • 0ntological says:

          Hmm. I'm not sure. You could be (probably are) right, but there could also be another applicable. All they say in the article is that it is a "state law written for child molesters".

          This will require some research!

        • fengi says:

          You may be right, the problem is until they get a test case they fight and win, Lousiana will keep doing it, perhaps even if they get some court to issue an injunction against enforcement.

          Also when it comes to anything sex worker related, it's remarkable how much leeway authorities get. I'm still stunned all those bans on dildos are considered legal.

  4. 0ntological says:

    Wow, thanks for posting this! I read it yesterday.

    This is exactly the kind of systemic, institutionalized classification of entire groups of people that just destroy their chances for a "normal life". Also, part of why I want to be a lawyer.

  5. roninspoon says:

    Well thank god someone finally started thinking about the children.

  6. mouseworks says:

    I suspect that whore who can afford to donate to the police department's favorite charity won't have problems with this law.

  7. kyhwana says:

    Pretty sure that's not constitutional.. re Texas' sodomy laws that got overturned by the supreme court?

  8. ilea says:

    I'm starting to wonder if registering sex offenders makes money for the city/state. My husband is one and he pays 60 a year to register in orleans, 10 to register where he works, 18 for a sex offender ID (renewed yearly), 32 for his driver license (which also has to be renewed yearly) and every time we move or every 5 years he has to send out postcards that at the very least cost $500. Plus we had to get our landlord it's ok for him to live here. He can't take our children trick or treating, wear a costume, mask or hood (as in hooded jacket..) during x-mas, halloween, easter or mardi gras. If we were evacuated for *anything* they would split up our family and send him to be evacc'd with the convicts.
    Our car has to be registered with the cops too and I'm constantly being pulled over for my license plate light being out (except it never is) and the cops always ask me where the sex offender is. I was pulled over 32 times in the last 3 months.
    And on top of all this no one legit will hire him so he has to work under the table for less than min wage.

    His crime? a nude photo of me from when I was 17 and he was 16....child porn.

    • jsbowden says:

      Why aren't you the one that was prosecuted? This is a serious question. You were the older member of the relationship, and you provided the photo.

      • ilea says:

        Because he was the one in possession of the photo several years later. See when he was in the army his roommate failed a drug test and so the MPs searched their apartment. The MPs came across the polaroid (and I look younger than I am.. at 27 I still get carded for cigs) and turned it over to the cops. His shitty attorney advised him to plead no contest to a misdemeanor possession of child pornography. He did and he ended up in jail for a month and now has to register.

    • srcosmo says:

      I will never understand the idea that it's legal to do X but illegal to produce an image of yourself doing X.

    • jwz says:

      Wow, that is an amazingly horrible story. And not that uncommon, from what I've heard...