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October 31, 2015

"Is Halloween Really More Dangerous for Kids?: A lack of evidence doesn’t stop cities from rounding up sexual offenders on the holiday."

Halloween-MGNThe title of this post is the headline of this recent Marshall Project piece that seems fitting to spotlight on October 31.  Here is an excerpt (with links from the original):

Despite research showing no evidence that children are at greater risk of experiencing sex abuse on Halloween than on any other day, states and localities around the country impose severe restrictions on registered sex offenders during the holiday.

Some, including parts of Virginia, Georgia, Delaware and Texas, require sex offenders on probation or parole report to designated locations. O thers, such as Missouri, Florida and Nevada, direct some offenders to post signs on their doors that say, “No candy or treats at this residence.”  Broader restrictions in most states direct people on the registry to keep their lights off to deter trick-or-treaters and stay away from children in costumes in their neighborhood or at the local mall.

Before a 2014 ACLU complaint, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriffs Office in Louisiana required all registered sex offenders post this sign on their front lawn on Halloween.

For more than six years, the Gaston County Sheriff’s Department in North Carolina has ordered sex offenders who are still on parole to report to the courthouse on Halloween, said Capt. Mike Radford, who helps to oversee the program.  “We keep them in one big courtroom and call people in and out to do random drug testing and vehicle searches, and we have guest speakers,” he said.  “If they don’t show up, we pick them up and arrest them.”  Radford said he doesn’t know why the program began but believes it is because Halloween presents “easy accessibility to a minor.”

The laws began to proliferate nationwide in the 1990s, when the fear of a predator who lures young children into his home with candy arose amid other concerns, such as poisoned treats and razor blades in apples.  “Going back decades, there is this sense that there are these dangers to children on Halloween,” said Jill Levenson, a clinical social worker and associate professor at Barry University in Florida.

But studies have shown that more than 90 percent of children who are sexually abused know their abuser, who is often a family member or close acquaintance. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report showed that only 7 percent of those who sexually abused juveniles were strangers to their victims.

Levenson co-authored a study that examined the Halloween effect by looking at sex crimes against children between 1997 to 2005.  The researchers analyzed more than 67,000 crimes in which the perpetrators were strangers, acquaintances, and neighbors.

In a year-by-year comparison that zeroed in on Halloween, the researchers found no variation in number or types of crimes committed, even as more laws were added.  But that’s not the message families hear in the weeks before Oct. 31, when articles with headlines such as “Homes to Watch Out for This Halloween,”which run the addresses of local registered sex offenders, are common.

October 31, 2015 at 03:03 PM | Permalink

Comments

We have politicians who are selling out our country, the Supreme Court decisions that make law out of what was never a constitutional question to begin with and law enforcement that operates by their own rules.

Studies have show that a registered citizen is not your enemy. From the above statement.....can any of you figure out who the REAL ENEMY is????

Posted by: Book38 | Oct 31, 2015 6:42:10 PM

Does North Carolina require a sign on the door? Inquiring minds want to know. We have a predator in our neighborhood. Can we post the sign in the front yard?

Posted by: Jack Mehoff | Nov 1, 2015 9:29:50 AM


And so the Witch Hunt continues. Hard working people who have already served their sentences, now being forced to leave their jobs so they can report to a courthouse, for what purpose? To prove they're not out doing "something"? So they can listen to "guest speakers"? To have random drug screens and vehicle searches? This is ridiculous.
And for Jack who wants to post a sign in his neighbor's yard because he is certain the person is a "predator"....there are just no words to describe how idiotic you sound. It's thinking like this that perpetuates the "boogy man" myth when it comes to all SO's.

Posted by: kat | Nov 1, 2015 9:46:37 AM

If it hasn't already done so, these police-enforced Halloween restrictions on ex-sex offenders also puts law enforcement personnel at extra needless risk to their own safety. It could result in accidental or intentional death and injury to police officers without enhancing the safety of children and other law-abiding persons.

The first scenario, or the accident one, would be where a resident sex offender who is required to turn his or her front porch light out during that night hears a suspicious noise on the front lawn and thinks that a burglar or vigilante is on the premises. Then, the resident ex-sex offender uses a firearm, whether legally or illegally obtained, to shoot dead whom ever is on the front lawn only to learn that he or she inadvertently killed a police officer. Now, the former sex offender will panic and attempt to flee fearing that prosecutors will now seek the death penalty or some other harsh punishment for simply standing his or her ground.

Another scenario, much scarier, would be where an ex-sex offender is bitter about these new petty laws now that he or she has paid all debts to society. This disgruntled person might decide to use this particular law as an excuse to seek revenge against police, prosecutors, politicians, parole officers, or anybody else who descends upon his or her property. In this scenario, the resident might decide to booby-trap his her house on Halloween for any law-enforcement official unfortunately enough to have to check this resident's compliance.

I pray that neither of these scenarios come to past if they have not yet done so. The police officer's job is dangerous enough without being ordered by greedy politicians and unscrupulous prosecutors to check on homes of those who are not suspected of having committed a new sex offense, but whose only crime is not complying with a Halloween restriction law.

I look forward to replies to this letter, either negative or positive, to keep this discussion going.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Nov 1, 2015 2:46:47 PM

@ william r deizell

The pathetic police will not even entertain either one of your scenario's until it actually happens. They don't understand that the SO's (registered citizens and their families) have had enough just like the "Black lives Matter" group has.

It doesn't have to come to bloodshed, but I can see it coming. SO's have had enough!

Posted by: Book38 | Nov 1, 2015 3:21:53 PM

The vast majority of people living the U.S. are idiots. They eat this nanny big government (NBG) waste up. NBG is FULL of idiots. They won't be able to stop this stupidity until they find a new group of people to harass. I don't think it will stop until then.

All good Americans are at war with people who support the Sex Offender Registries. Work hard to keep the NBGs broke and dysfunctional. We are a divided country and growing more so every day.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 2, 2015 9:33:35 AM

kat | Nov 1, 2015 9:46:37 AM: "Jack Mehoff" is the predator in her/her neighborhood. A harasser who cannot mind his/her own business and leave other people alone.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 2, 2015 9:34:55 AM

william r. delzell | Nov 1, 2015 2:46:47 PM: I've said it many times before. People who are listed on the moronic Sex Offender Registries (SORs) have been retaliating violently for a long time and will continue to do so. The criminal regime of Georgia was forcing people out of their homes at one point and at least 2 children were murdered directly because of it. I expect there is plenty going on and we simply have no knowledge of it. The SORs are idiotic policy that will continue to split America.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Nov 2, 2015 9:39:19 AM

Now that you mentioned it, I do remember reading about an event earlier this year in Savannah, GA, where police arrested a former sex offender at a mobile home (trailer) park for allegedly phoning in bomb threats to the local sex offender registry. Fortunately, nobody was harmed, but it seemed to prove your point about the unintended consequences (by politicians, etc.) of these laws. I think the arrestee lived by himself at the time of the arrest. The other residents of the mobile park were undertandably scared of him when they realized that the authorities had just arrested him on charges of making threats against a law-enforcement agency.

Posted by: william r. delzell | Nov 2, 2015 3:01:32 PM

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