|Cambridge, Mass.—RSOL, Inc., a civil rights organization that advocates for evidence-based laws and the civil rights of law-abiding, registered citizens, calls for law enforcement entities to end the huge expenditure of tax dollars which are needlessly squandered each Halloween on a problem that experts in the field insist simply does not exist. (1)
This year, a letter will be printed and sent to all parents in Barstow County, Georgia regarding registrants’ obligations at Halloween. This is in addition to various restrictions and requirements that apply only to those on parole or probation. In flagrant disregard of the First Amendment prohibition against government compelling speech, a flyer with graphics will be hand-delivered to all registrants which they must post on their doors, and the sheriffs’ office will place signs on every registrant’s home or dwelling. This is just one county in Georgia; many others have their own similar, and often peculiar, requirements. (2)
Not to be outdone, the Tennessee Department of Correction has launched its annual Operation Blackout in the hopes of visiting some 3,500 registrants statewide to ensure that they are compliant with Halloween restrictions that, among other things, restricts them from displaying any “fall decorations” around their homes. (3) (emphasis added).
“This is nonsense,” said Sandy Rozek, Communications Director of RSOL. “Research clearly shows no increased risk to children at Halloween from strangers, whether they are on the registry or not. There is simply no correlation between Halloween and those on a sex offender registry.”
Research shows that 34 states either have statewide requirements for registrants at Halloween or allow each jurisdiction to determine their own. Sixteen states have no restrictions or special requirements for those on the registry statewide or jurisdictionally. Year after year, as far back as can be determined, no assault or abduction of a child during trick-or-treating has been perpetuated by a registrant in any of the states—not one of the 34 nor of the 16.
RSOL’s executive director, Brenda Jones said, “Think of the taxpayer money that’s being squandered here. Some localities have ‘round-ups’ where every registrant is required to attend a ‘special counseling session’ or just be contained in jail during trick-or-treat hours. Others have nearly all their law enforcement officers assigned to spend their evenings, and lots of gas, going from house to house, making sure registrants are in their homes, lights out, cowering from the annual Inquisition.”
In Houston, Texas, everyone under sex offender parole or probation is required to submit a “Halloween safety plan” a full month before the date, a plan that includes their requirements to stay at home, keep lights off, have no decorations, wear no costumes, nor answer the door during trick-or-treat hours.
Experts have long written about the futility of these restrictions. CA RSOL just won a challenge, forcing a county to stop their sign-posting requirements. “Operation Boo” has been in operation in California for several years. Their Halloween restrictions for registrants under supervision have been the standard—curfews, no lights, no decorations—but this year when the requirement was added for a sign to be posted on each door, the CA RSOL sued the California DOC, citing the potential danger to the registrant and anyone in the home with him. The signs marked him as a target, the suit said, and a Federal judge agreed and issued a temporary restraining order for the requirement for the signs. (4)
In North Carolina, one television station, WFMY in Greensboro, dared to show the truth, getting the actual facts and interviewing Brenda Jones about an increased risk of danger from those on the registry at Halloween. “It’s just a complete myth,” said Jones. (5)
It is a myth that cost millions to taxpayers. This is a Halloween trick that America cannot afford. RSOL calls upon all states and jurisdictions that squander our precious resources on a manufactured problem to read the research, read the experts, read the facts and statistics, and stop throwing away America’s money.
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