Sex Offenders Must Close Door to Trick-or-Treaters, States Say

October 23, 2008 07:59 AM
by Isabel Cowles
In an effort to keep children safe, sex offenders are required to identify their homes and not answer the door on Halloween.

Sex Offenders Banned From Halloween Festivities

Halloween poses a risk to children as they visit neighborhood households—especially when they live near convicted sex offenders. To warn kids of any potential threat, officials in many states are requiring that sex criminals identify their homes and observe a Halloween curfew.

In Maryland, for example, convicted sex offenders will be required to post orange pumpkins on their doors that read: “No candy at this residence.” Sex offenders in most states are required to stay home and turn off their lights on Oct. 31.

Maryland law enforcement sent letters with the orange signs to all 1,200 convicted sex offenders in the state. According to Patrick McGee, interim director of the state's Division of Parole and Probation, "Because Halloween is a holiday in which large numbers of children interact with strangers, the concern among parents and other community members about sexual offenders in their neighborhoods is naturally intensified during this time of year."

States across the country have heightened restrictions on sex offenders at Halloween: Missouri will also require sex offenders to post signs on their doors stating, “No candy or treats at this residence.” Except in the case of work obligations or a medical emergency, no sex offender is permitted to leave his or her home on Halloween.
According to the Kansas City Star, “Scores of Clay County sheriff’s deputies will fan out throughout the county to check registered sex offenders to ensure they comply with a new Missouri law, which restricts their activities on that day.”

Some states are proactive in their approach to helping kids avoid contact with criminals. According to State Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch, the Wisconsin sex offender registry site will temporarily link to the Family Watchdog Web site, which identifies sex offender homes on maps that can be searched by address.

Background: Past Halloween bans

Crackdowns on sex offenders have become increasingly strident on Halloween. Last year in South Carolina and Virginia, for example, sex offenders were required to report to the parole office at 5 p.m. and stay until 10:30 p.m. Paroled sex offenders in California had a required 12-hour curfew from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. and were not allowed to have any outside lights on or to answer the door.

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