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October 22, 2013

Lamenting sex offender fear-mongering around Halloween

Writing over at Huffington Post, Emily Horowitz has this notable new commentary headlined "Manufacturing Fear: Halloween Laws for Sex Offenders."   Here is how the piece starts and ends:

In North Carolina, a sheriff tells parents to check the online sex offender registry before allowing children to trick-or-treat.  In Montana, a town offers a "trunk-or-treat" event where kids can get Halloween candy from trunks of cars in a parking lot to avoid potential danger.  In New York, "Operation Halloween: Zero Tolerance" prohibits sex offenders from wearing masks or costumes or answering their doors on Halloween, and, as a parole source says, "There is certainly nothing more frightening than the thought of one of these men opening their door to innocent children."  In Oklahoma, a city council is considering an ordinance forbidding sex offenders from decorating their homes or passing out candy on Halloween. In Orange, California, sex offenders can't answer their door or have outside lighting on Halloween, but an additional ordinance requiring window signs saying, "No candy or treats at this residence" was recently revoked after attorneys argued it was a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Why worry about sex offenders on Halloween?  Research shows no evidence of increased child sex abuse on Halloween and no evidence that a child was ever a victim of sexual abuse by a stranger while out trick-or-treating. This makes perfect sense, because government data shows the vast majority (about 93%) of sex crimes against children are not committed by strangers but by family members or acquaintances....

The false dichotomy of evil adults and innocent children and families prevents children from meeting their neighbors and becoming part of a community.  Sex offenders are subject to more post-punishment restrictions than any other ex-offenders, and have lower recidivism rates.  Halloween sex offender laws, and rampant media coverage of the threat of sex offenders on Halloween and throughout the year, is creating a neurotic and fearful generation of kids who grow up thinking they are helpless prey facing threats from real monsters. Children are safest when they know their neighbors, and Halloween is a good opportunity to meet others in the community.  There are some actual threats to child safety on Halloween -- like an increase in pedestrian car accidents -- but sex offenders and poisoned candy aren't among them.

October 22, 2013 at 09:42 AM | Permalink


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The whole thing is much adieu about very little.

I agree that the restrictions being discussed will not significantly advance child safety. But the idea that having to put up a sign, "No candy or treats at this residence" is cruel and unusual punishment is preposterous, as is a good deal of this over-the-top article.

"The false dichotomy of evil adults and innocent children and families prevents children from meeting their neighbors and becoming part of a community."

Did the author ever actually go out trick-or-treating? The purpose is not to "meet neighbors" or "become a part of the community." The purpose, and what actually gets done, is the kid spends between 10 and 45 seconds at the door and scarfs up a candy bar or two. That's it.

"Halloween sex offender laws, and rampant media coverage of the threat of sex offenders on Halloween and throughout the year, is creating a neurotic and fearful generation of kids who grow up thinking they are helpless prey facing threats from real monsters."

What complete nonsense. The best thing that can be said of this sentence is that no evidence is cited for its very, very sweeping propositions. Does anyone actually think kids today are a "neurotic and fearful generation"? Good grief.

"Children are safest when they know their neighbors, and Halloween is a good opportunity to meet others in the community."

And yet more baloney about how Halloween is about community togetherness. Any ten year-old can tell you it's about getting goodies, period.

If there is epidemic hysteria sweeping the country about child molestation on Halloween, which there isn't, it has met its match in this article's counter-hysteria.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 22, 2013 10:10:56 AM

I happen to like the Halloween hysteria because it demonstrates to all decent Americans just to what level the thieving, un-American, criminal, idiotic Registry Terrorists will stoop. It shows what they are about. They are a real danger to Americans.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Oct 22, 2013 12:18:35 PM

Look out, Prosecutor. Your opponent is already writing his next campaign theme: "Otis approves sex offenders handing candy to YOUR children!!"

Having said that, let's get back to front-ending punishments lawfully through the court sentencing system, and get away from this NSA-esque sex offender registry, which is the trigger for regulations like Halloween control, that is used more to indemnify individuals than to placate communities.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 22, 2013 12:20:58 PM

Eric Knight --

I think it'll be a long day in December before anyone runs against me from the right.

My own view is that offenders ought to be given a chance to right themselves and that, except in unusual cases, ex-cons should not be treated as presumptive criminals. So if an ex-SO wants to give my kid candy on Halloween, I guess I'd be nervous, but I'd be standing right there, so I don't see the problem. If he wants to put his hand in the kid's underpants then, yes, there is going to be trouble.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 22, 2013 12:50:21 PM

| Fleeing Sex Offender Lives 1 Block from U.S. Preschool | | Oct 21, 2013 | Windsor Star/CBC News
Michael Sean Stanley is an untreated, violent offender, Canadian officials say

A sex offender who caused school closures before he fled Canada now lives a block away from a preschool in Seattle,
police records show.
His address online is listed as an intersection just a block away from Pike Place Market, a scenic destination for both tourists and locals.
Michael Sean Stanley cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet in Canada earlier this month.

Stanley has a lengthy history of offences against women and children, Canadian officials issued a public alert describing Stanley
as an untreated, violent offender who posed a significant risk.
Stanley, a U.S. citizen, crossed the border and was located in the Seattle area last week. Authorities asked him to register as a sex offender
after Canadian officials decided not to seek extradition.

U.S. authorities have said there is no reason to arrest Stanley.

|AP UPDATE: Sex Offender Who Fled Canada Arrested in Seattle |
A sex offender who fled Canada has been arrested in Seattle for harassment.
Police say they received several reports of a man yelling in an alley, including one person who had asked Stanley to be quiet.

Police say Stanley threatened to assault that person.
Police say Stanley became combative when police arrived at the scene and claimed he had a knife. Authorities say Stanley appeared intoxicated.

… thieving, un-American, criminal, idiotic … It shows what they are about. They are a real danger to Americans.
You nailed it!

Posted by: Adamakis | Oct 22, 2013 1:55:21 PM

Strong on sentence + Assertive on rehab = Low Recidivism = Lower crime rate. Agreed with Bill Otis.

But my point is still valid, perhaps not in your case. It worked in Missouri, where a Dem governor vetoed a GOP bill to effectively reform the registry, knowing that an override would create instant campaign slogans for his party's candidates. In short, politics before rationality...but then what else is "knew"?

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 22, 2013 1:57:33 PM

all i know is if anyone govt fucktard or not handed me a sign and ordered me to put it up. Well i'd put it up all right. Right in the top of their empty pointed head!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 22, 2013 2:28:49 PM

"The whole thing is much adieu about very little.

I agree that the restrictions being discussed will not significantly advance child safety. But the idea that having to put up a sign, "No candy or treats at this residence" is cruel and unusual punishment is preposterous, as is a good deal of this over-the-top article."

Much Adieu? Let's see:

An SO off probation or parole can be fined, jailed or imprisoned (or that most favorite tactic, having a SWAT Team sent in shooting everybody) for:

- Displaying a jack-o-lantern
- Leaving on his/hers external lights
- Giving only candy to a neighbor's child
- Displaying any witch, wizard or skeleton (Are Wiccans protected by the 1st Amendment?)

That is much adieu about nothing?

I can just see the legal arguments: "Is Indian Corn a Halloween or Fall decoration?"

As for posting a sign, is it only compelled speech when the government forces you to display it, or can LE put it on your private property and not charge you for it but you can't remove it?

Yes, say that it isn't cruel and unusual punishment to the relatives of the SO's that have already been murdered by vigilantes, much less have their property destroyed on an ongoing basis without the concern of LE, because after all, they deserved it. Give the dumb populace another reason to consider these people as less than human, deserving of torment and torture. Give them an outward sign saying, "Here I am. Come and get me".

To people who wish to comment, please read the entire article and the comments. I agree that the HP is not my usual cup of tea but sometimes you have to take the blinders off.

PS: Bill, even though Eric outlined the campaign against you, I would vote for you for most offices because at least you are a straight shooter unlike our idiots on BOTH the right and the left. I hope you would choose rodsmith as your running mate.

Posted by: albeed | Oct 22, 2013 5:45:37 PM

albeed (Oct 22, 2013 5:45:37 PM):

You are exactly right. The whole Registry harassment program is "much adieu about very little" only to people who are not Americans and do not have to put up with it. To normal Americans, it's an unacceptable outrage.

There are no Americans who think it okay that there is a group of branded people for which criminal regimes can just write new laws to target them any time they feel like it. And the regimes do not have to have any proof at all that their law does anything useful (quite the opposite, there can be many known facts that show that it is not).

I'm sure you know that there are some criminal regimes that have "sex offender lives here!!!" signs posted year round (presumably on public property). Why don't these criminal regimes try that for Halloween?

I've contacted many families who live where they can't decorate their yards/homes as they please for Halloween and I've suggested that they make dummies depicting the criminal regime dummies that are responsible for the laws and that they then hang them from a rope from their trees. Of course that would be a political statement but not a bad Halloween display either. The families should leave those up year round. In fact, I think that's a great idea for any listed family. I'll start constructing my Charles Schumer dummy now. There are so many choices.

Has anyone seen anyone try to defend the lack of the other Registries lately? Apparently none of the Registry Terrorists are strong enough to even attempt it. Which I find hilarious.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Oct 22, 2013 6:34:21 PM

There is an epidemic of hysteria sweeping the country and it's called victimization because nowadays everyone feels thinks they're a victim. The statement 'I'm a victim' has lost it's shock value, whether it's actually true or not. It's over emphasized and overused the same as the terms 'hero and patriot' which unfortunately has degraded the real meaning of the words.

Posted by: PC | Oct 22, 2013 7:18:04 PM

This Halloween hysteria does not protect little children from assault or abduction.

What does protect them are parents who accompany their little children to any house they "trick or treat" at. Don't make the same mistake that John Walsh and his equally negligent wife made when they left their little boy, Adam Walsh, alone in a shopping mall's penny arcade thirty years ago where a stranger abducted and murdered the child.

Little children on Halloween also have to worry about drunk drivers carelessly hitting pedestrians of adults and children who cross the street to visit house to house. Maybe we should have a drunk-driver registry displayed just before Halloween so parents will know what neighborhood streets not to cross with their children on Halloween Night. In poorly lit neighborhoods, even careful sober drivers have to be vigilant about not accidentally hitting throngs of pedestrians that constantly cross residential streets without warning. Last Halloween, when I had to drive home late from an errand, a storm just before Halloween had knocked out the power lighting in my neighborhood. I had to drive at a snail's pace, as it was extremely difficult to see families in the dark who suddenly jay-walked a few feet in front of me. Fortunately, I got home okay without any accident.

Secondly, these Halloween restriction laws by prohibiting former sex offenders from lighting their houses at night, goes against police advice to neighborhood anti-crime groups to keep their lights on after dark so as to DETER would-be house breakers/burglars, or do the politicians want burglars and other undesirables to break into sex offenders' homes, thereby putting close-by houses at risk for home-invasion as well?

Finally, these Halloween restriction laws could put law enforcement personnel at risk to their own safety if such laws cause any former sex offender to go off the deep end and booby-trap their house against either parole officers or against would be home-invaders. In "Stand your ground" states, some sex offenders might even get a half-baked notion to use such a law as to justify shooting anybody, whether police officer or burglar, who forces their way into their home.

How does that promote public safety?

Posted by: william r. delzell | Oct 23, 2013 9:27:30 AM

The slant of the readership of this blog has seldom been on more vivid display than on this thread.

The idea that there is "hysteria" about sex offenders on Halloween is pure nonsense. I know lots and lots of people with lots and lots of children and not a single one has so much as mentioned the subject, or plans to do anything differently on account of it.

The number of people on SO registries is miniscule, out of a population of 316,000,000. Thinking about this stuff is simply not part of normal life. In the wide swath of typical families across this country, not only is there no "hysteria" about this, there's not even anything you could call genuine concern. Parents are more worried by far that their kids will start munching on the goodies before they get home Halloween night, and that the unsupervised munching will produce a stomach ache.

P.S. For those of you hyping the SO insurrection -- good grief. Do you have even a slight connection to reality?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 23, 2013 6:13:25 PM

LOL i agree with you bill at least on the first part of your msg. There is no SO hysteria! except of course that built up by the govt fucktards after the ever popular VOTE. Plus the little cash nazi's in the media!

as for this!

"P.S. For those of you hyping the SO insurrection -- good grief. Do you have even a slight connection to reality?"

based on this statement i'd say YOUR the one with a loose connection to REALITY!

Do you honestly think the govt can keep screwing with a MILLION plus individuals FORVER and think they will just sit there and TAKE IT!

That kind of thinking sir is RETARDED!

The only question is WHEN will they finally BLOW! and how bad the mmess will be when it happens. I happen to think it could be a major nation wide mess if even 10% decide to go out with a bang. that 100,000 sabatours or suicide bombers or snipers or backstabbers. Just think also. The TSA will be useless in finding and catching them. LOL have they ever cought anyone? These are HERE NOW. They don't have to go over any border. They can just walk to the local justice/govt center and have fun!

When you add in what some of them used to do. It just get's worse!

Even a dog will snap if you keep mistreating it. Are you saying humans won't. Especially considering the 1,000's of years of history that say the exact oposite!

Maybe you should go back into politics. You'd fit right in!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 23, 2013 11:33:53 PM

rodsmith --

A lot more people, me among them, get jacked over by the government in the form of excessive taxation to pay the bills for the irresponsible (including and especially criminals), but we won't be taking to the streets. Long ago, we settled for the ballot box, knowing that sometimes we'll win and other times we'll lose. Learning to live with defeat and adversity is probably the single most important lesson of adulthood. It's certainly one of the first.

"Maybe you should go back into politics. You'd fit right in!"

I was never actually in politics, although I did work in the White House (George H. W. Bush) and was later a political appointee at DOJ. I have never run for office and doubt that I ever would -- takes too much energy for a man of my age. I'll leave it to youngsters like you.

You do crack me up, though. You're an underrated commenter.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 23, 2013 11:47:00 PM

Bill: I think your family needs to spend some time listed on a Sex Offender Registry. That is possibly the only way that you could get a good grasp of reality.

You are comparing people who "get jacked over by the government in the form of excessive taxation" with people who are listed on the Registries? That shows your disconnect very well. I am definitely in the top 10% of earners in this country and almost certainly in the top 5%. So I am very familiar with paying far, far more than my fair share. There is no comparison between the issues related to that and having your family listed on a Registry. None at all, it's not even close.

I do agree with you that there is not general mass hysteria about "sex offenders" on Halloween. Only truly stupid people are worrying about that. But that doesn't help the people who are needlessly harassed by their local criminal regimes. Seriously, what kind of American would think that it is okay for a criminal regime to tell you that you can't put pumpkins on your porch because you were convicted of a crime two decades ago? And that type of harassment is widespread and constant.

So I agree that there is no ongoing mass hysteria. I don't think there is even "hysteria" over widespread "residency restrictions", yet we have those ALL over the country. The problem is that the majority of people in the country just don't care much that the Registries exist. They may not be hysterical but they won't even raise a voice to say it's wrong. And then there IS the small minority of true idiots who are hysterical and very vocal. We must stop catering to those people.

I can also tell you that you are very wrong in your ideas about a "SO insurrection". It's been occurring nonstop for a very long time in many different ways. The Registries have severely damaged the U.S. I have a very long laundry list of actions that I take on an ongoing basis simply because the Registries exist. I have a large number of children and I taught them from a young age that government and law enforcement are not to be trusted. Today, they are very successful adults and what I taught them is affecting the U.S.

There are more direct effects. For example, I have worked pretty hard with a bunch of other people to keep some local law enforcement agencies broke. It has been extremely effective. They struggle to perform even basic tasks. They are broke because the Registries exist.

And of course, the Registries contribute to the people listed on them committing more crimes. The Registries have directly contributed to some of the people listed on them murdering children. There are many other types of crimes being committed as well. Some people listed on the Registries are just trying to survive. Is that not an insurrection?

I could go on for quite a while but I think you get some idea. Open your mind and try to think from a different perspective.

I would like to take this opportunity though to mention one other tactic for people that I find quite satisfying. Families that are listed on the Registries should own rental property. I find things like 4 unit townhouses work quite well for this. Have a person who is listed on the Registry to move in and out of the property. You will invariably have people breaking their leases when a Registered person moves in. It is trivial to sue them for the damages. You can collect money over and over again and you are targeting people who deserve it. This is a war, do anything legal to harm people who support the Registries.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Oct 24, 2013 9:44:44 AM

"A lot more people, me among them, get jacked over by the government in the form of excessive taxation to pay the bills for the irresponsible (including and especially criminals), ..."

oh boohoo, even if you took to the streets you'd only represent 1% of the true whiners that fall into that category, please get a new crying towel cause the one your using now is as soggy as a dirty diaper.

Posted by: PC | Oct 24, 2013 8:38:45 PM

What is especially galling about those politicians who dump these restrictive sex offender laws on law-enforcement personnel is that many of the men and women who push the loudest for such laws are themselves either sex predators who are using these laws to cover up their own sordid acts OR are extremely NEGLIGENT parents like TV celeb John Walsh and his wife who set their little boy, Adam, up for kidnapping and murder when they left him alone in a penny archade. The Walshes are using their celebrity status into misleading responsible parents into believing that the Walsh's are sincere victims' rights advocates instead of what they really are: cynical and power-hungry fear mongers!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Oct 26, 2013 2:13:29 PM

Mr. Delzell, thanks for pointing out John and Reve Walsh's true character. I usually add greedy and sleazy as adjectives when I refer to them. How (not)cool to make a fortune from the death of your son while ruining the lives of so many others forced wear a scarlet letter.

Posted by: athought | Oct 26, 2013 4:09:42 PM

It just occurred to me. These Halloween restriction laws can endanger law enforcement in an additional way. Since many of these Halloween sex offender restriction laws not only require the sex offender to be inside his or her house and to not give out treats, but also requires these residents to turn off their front porch and garage security lights, thereby increasing the risk of burglary especially if the particular house in question is located in a high-crime neighborhood, one could just imagine a residential sex offender mistaking a police officer for a burglar and using the "Stand Your Ground" law to justify shooting the law enforcement officer that the resident mistook for a house-breaker/burglar. If the front porch light and garage security lights are off, not only would this tempt burglars, but it would prevent the sex offender from seeing if it was a police officer or a prowler outside. I wonder if city/county law enforcement agencies have bothered to ponder this possibility. Law enforcement also has an obligation to protect its own officers from unreasonable danger even thought the nature of police work carries danger with it all the time.

In some cases, a house-breaker will disguise himself/herself as a law enforcement officer to gain illegal entry into a person's home, including the home of a sex offender! Some sex offenders, thus, might not even be mollified by seeing the approaching person wearing a law-enforcement uniform instead of a hood and mask!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Oct 27, 2013 2:27:40 PM

well william i figure if i see anyone skuling around my house. i have the right to order them to freeze. At that point of i can see a weapon and they make a "furtive movement" i have a right to take them down. Costumed govt fucktard or not!

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 27, 2013 4:07:17 PM

Just recently, two Santa Cruz, California, police officers lost their lives in the performance of their duties while investigating a person with a possible pre-sex offender record. The murder of these two law enforcement personnel is the first murder in Santa Cruz's living memory against any police officer investigating ANY crime (not just sex offenses) while in the line of duty.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Oct 28, 2013 9:58:27 AM

Halloween is almost here!

If your family is listed on a Sex Offender Registry, remember to follow a few simple rules around Halloween:

1) Follow all laws. The laws are weapons of the immoral side of the Registry war, neutralize them. If anything here conflicts with following all laws, ignore it.

2) Be around children. It is best if you leave your home and go somewhere far from your home where you are anonymous. Act like a normal person.

3) Do not allow law enforcement or any other employees of the criminal regimes to interact with you. Do not allow them on your property.

4) Look for opportunities to cost criminal regimes time, money, or other resources. Be especially aware of their actions that can be used later to convince others that they should have less resources.

5) Don't worry about being nice to people who may support the Registries. They are enemies.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Oct 28, 2013 5:29:03 PM

Well i see we made it through another halloween and we are STILL waiting for that wave of kidnappings and assaults from those evil ex sexoffenders! Just more proof of the lies and fraud from the criminal gov that now runs what used to be the United States of America!

Posted by: rodsmith | Nov 2, 2013 10:23:48 PM

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