Bill pushes bigger penalties for sex offenders

Focuses on predators who sexually abuse disabled and elderly

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 4:31pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — Lawmakers hope to crack down on crime during the upcoming legislative session. One representative focuses on increasing penalties for sex offenders to protect the state's most vulnerable victims.

Right now, the maximum penalty for someone who sexually abuses the elderly, the handicapped, or the mentally disabled is only 10 years in prison. One lawmakers says, that's just not enough. State representative Mack "Bodi" White, R-District 64, will author a bill to change the rules. He wants to make sure sexual predators who prey on the elderly and disabled get a minimum of 25 years behind bars. That sentence can be stretched all the up to 99 years in prison, or a lifetime of monitoring.

"If you commit crimes against a thirteen year old, you get life," White says. "So with someone that is mentally impaired, they have the capabilities of a 12 or 13 year old. Someone who is physically impaired can't defend themselves."

It's a bill people in the community are willing to support.

"I think it's probably one of the biggest issues right now, trying to get sexual offenders out of the community," says concerned mother Courtney Babin.

"I think it should be increased due to the fact that the elderly and mentally handicapped are just like minors, children," agrees Beverly Rogers.

White believes passing this bill will give officials one more tool to keep dangerous criminals off the streets for good. "These type of predators, they reoccur," he explains. "They prey on the weak."

White's bill is part of of a five-bill package backed by Governor Bobby Jindal to make the state safer.

According to a press release, the other four bills will target sex offenders using social networking sites, ensure sex offenders are complying with current law, transfer the Missing and Exploited Children Information Clearinghouse to State Police, and close the loophole in the law that has allowed substances, such as fake bath salts and synthetic marijuana to be sold legally.

Learn more about bills already being submitted to this legislative session at the Louisiana Legislature's website


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