Proposed saggy pants ban heads to public hearing

HOUMA (AP) — Terrebonne residents can comment April 10 before the Parish Council takes a final vote on a proposal to impose fines for anyone caught wearing pants that sag below the waist in public.

The council voted 8-1 Monday night to advance the proposed ordinance.

The ordinance, if approved, will prohibit men and women from wearing clothing in public that exposes an “inappropriate” amount of skin or underwear “for the purpose of public decency.”

According to the proposal, violators would face these fines:

—$50 for the first offense.

—$100 for the second offense.

—$100 and 16 hours of community service for a third offense.

Lafourche Parish already has an ordinance that makes it illegal for anyone to reveal underwear or to dress in a way that is deemed “unbecoming of his or her sex.” Forty-five people have been ticketed in the law’s five-year existence.

Terrebonne Councilman John Navy, who brought the proposal to the council’s attention last week, made it clear that it would mimic an ordinance already in place in Shreveport, though no differences between the Lafourche Parish mandate and the Shreveport mandate were specified.

Parish Attorney Courtney Alcock said she spoke with Shreveport’s city attorney, who told her the ordinance had been enforced and prosecuted 376 times since 2007.

“Most people plead guilty and it has not been challenged,” she said.

Council Chairwoman Beryl Amedee said she will not support the ordinance, questioning whether it unduly restricts people’s constitutional rights.

“I believe that the 376 cases in Shreveport would be held up as proof that this passes constitutional muster, but I don’t agree that proves it,” she said. “That simply proves that it’s much cheaper to pay your $50 or $100 fine than it is to pay an attorney to fight on the grounds of constitutionality.”

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