Lawmaker looking for ways to prevent sex crimes against children

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – One state senator is looking for ways to deter people from committing sexual crimes against children. A chemical castration bill failed, so she is looking for a different approach that tackles the cause of the crime.

A study commission was originally born out of a bill that did not pass in the 2022 regular legislative session aimed at adding the punishment of chemical castration to those who committed sexual offenses against children. Now the commission is hearing testimony and reviewing data on the best way to tackle the issue.

Sen. Regina Barrow, a Baton Rouge Democrat, brought the bill that would have allowed chemical castration of people convicted of committing sexual offenses to kids under 13. The bill faced heavy opposition and is considered to be unconstitutional. The senator is mulling over ways to rewrite the bill and learn of other ways to get to the root cause of these offenses.

“What hurts me a lot is knowing how little babies sometimes are being victimized and they don’t know how to sometimes communicate that or they are fearful,” Barrow said.

Members of the study commission are putting the focus on education of healthy relationships and how to help kids recognize bad behavior. The advocacy group Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) is working on the commission to bring awareness of the work they do to educate people about sexual violence.

“We really need there to be education and people need to be not thinking it’s to indoctrinate our children about, you know, sex and it’s to protect them,” STAR CEO Morgan Lamandre said.

There was also talk of investing in mental health support as well as housing to help with the root causes of some of these offenses. The committee discussed how the lack of housing plays a major role in victims being forced to stay in households where they are being abused.

Barrow said she is not sure what her new legislation will look like, but hopes to hear more from experts in the next meeting.

“I’m looking for something that really stops individuals from violating our children,” Barrow said.

The commission plans to meet at least one more time before the regular session. Barrow said she hasn’t ruled out bringing back the castration bill, but she’ll be looking at other prevention methods as well as providing more services to victims.