Governor Bobby Jindal signed legislation today to keep Louisiana's communities safe by cracking down on sex offenders and criminal street gangs. The Governor signed HB 556, HB 620, and HB 790, which are all part of the Governor's 2012 legislative package.
HB 556 by Representative Joseph Lopinto will force sex offenders to immediately update changes to their online identifier information. Currently, sex offenders are required to register and provide certain information to law enforcement agencies, including their address, vehicle license plates, and on-line identifiers. Depending on the crime committed, offenders are supposed to periodically renew and update their information submitted to law enforcement. However, because on-line identifiers can change rapidly, this law will now require sex offenders to immediately notify and update such on-line information and penalize the offender if he does not.
Governor Jindal said, "Convicted sex offenders should not be allowed to circumvent established law simply by changing their online alias, and this law will require them to notify law enforcement of any changes and will impose the penalty of up to ten years for a failure to comply."
HB 620 by Representative Ledricka Thierry strengthens a law to prohibit convicted sex offenders from using social networking websites. The law prohibits certain registered sex offenders from intentionally using a social networking website, and defines social networking website as a website that has the primary purpose of facilitating social interactions with other users of the website. The law also adds a provision explicitly stating what sites are not social networking sites.
Governor Jindal said, "Louisiana families should have the comfort of knowing their children are able to access the internet without the threat of sex predators. We already restrict sex offenders from playgrounds, daycares, and schools, and they should not be allowed to prey on our children in our homes through our computers. As technology advances, so too must law enforcement's tools, so that we can stay ahead of the monsters that prey on our children."
HB 790 by Representative Joseph Lopinto increases the penalties for certain crimes committed by street gangs. Under current law, if a person directs or assists a gang in certain enumerated crimes, then he will be imprisoned for at least one year and up to one-half the maximum term of imprisonment for that criminal offense. This sentence is in addition and consecutive to any sentence imposed for that criminal offense, which ensures that violent gang members receive extra jail time. However, current law does not cover some crimes law enforcement agencies are currently confronting, including assault by drive-by shooting, inciting or participating in a riot, aggravated criminal damage to property, simple burglary and looting. This new law adds these crimes to the current list to strengthen local law enforcement agencies' ability to combat street gangs.
Governor Jindal said, "Our communities belong to us, not the gangs trying to establish their hold on our neighborhoods through intimidation and violence. As the father of three young children and as Governor, I will give law enforcement officers and the justice system the tools they need to punish these violent criminals."