Sex Offenders and Halloween
Today is Halloween. This means that law enforcement officials are going to knock on the doors of many known sex offenders to remind them of laws that restrict their freedom today. For example, in Louisiana, registered sex offenders are not allowed to trick or treat, attend parties where children will be present or even decorate their home for Halloween. In other states, these restrictions include no driving after dark, no dressing up or leaving the house between 5 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Other jurisdictions require registered sex offenders to turn their porch light off and post of a sign “No candy or treats at this residence.”
I already know. Some of you are thinking, “So, they deserve this treatment – we must protect our children.” For many people, sex offenders are scarier than witches and vampires on Halloween. But there is no evidence that children are more likely to be abducted, assaulted, or abused on Halloween than on any other day. Crime data from the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data shows that there is no recorded increase in sex crimes before or after this holiday. Furthermore, many registered sex offenders are parents who are raising children — and no, they are not currently molesting their children. Most sex crimes are non-violent, isolated incidences, for which the person paid his debt to society and received counseling. Should they be restricted from participating in a family activity because of an error in judgment or mistake that they made years or decades ago? How do they explain to their child that he cannot put a pumpkin on the porch because Daddy will be put in jail? Am I the only person who thinks that it is insane that someone could be incarcerated in this country for placing a pumpkin on his front porch?
These laws are government mandated restrictions that suppress the freedom of hundreds of thousands of Americans. For the sake of preserving our constitution and the values upon which our country was formed, we should consider some of the realities of sex offender registry.
1) The crimes that can make a person a “sex offender” range from rape to sexting with a teen to, in some states, prostitution, and public urination. The majority of sex offenses are non-violent crimes. Why are we not alerted when a murderer or armed robber has moved into our neighborhood?
2) Even for more serious crimes, the recidivism rates for sex offenders are extremely low—only about 5 percent commit another sex crime after being released from prison. The Department of Justice conducted a study and concluded that sex offender registry showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses.
3) Since the start the registry, there has been a growing number of serious beatings, not only of sex offenders but sometimes of their family members or people with whom they live. Some confrontations have led to tragedies. Two sex offenders were murdered in Maine. In this case, the victims were no longer likely threats; one was simply a young man who at 17 had a 15-year-old girlfriend. Posting names, addresses and photographs on a sex offender registry is a risk to those on the list.