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House panel calls for registry of people who hit children

by Minden Press-Herald

BATON ROUGE–The House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice moved a bill forward that would create a registry of people who commit battery against minors. 

Rep. Troy D. Romero, R-Jennings, proposed House Bill 31 to protect children. Terry Mann tearfully testified how he had discovered after two weeks of intensive medical care that his 7-year-old grandson had suffered from two skull fractures. 

He said the bill was necessary to protect children from people who might harm them. 

Sarah Whittington, an attorney for the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana, testified in opposition. She said the bill would be ineffective in protecting children because all the information that it attempts to publicize is already available to law enforcement officers.

She also argued that it would not get to the root of the problem. “Being convicted of a crime will never answer why the crime was committed,” Whittington said. 

Meghan Garvey, managing director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, also testified against the bill. 

Garvey was not convinced the bill would fulfill its goal but agreed that adults should be held to a higher standard than children. However, she said there are already strict penalties for crimes against children. 

“We will not protect children by branding caretakers as criminals,” she said.

Rep. Marcus Bryant, D-New Iberia, was critical of Garvey and Whittington’s testimony, asking: “If someone hit my child without my permission or knowledge, you don’t think they should be on a registry?” 

Whittington responded that if that happened, all that information would be public even without the bill. 

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