Thursday, October 22, 2015
Can you believe Halloween is next week? Retailers have even begun stocking Christmas decorations. Crazy, yeah, but let’s deal with Halloween first which is not a fun time of year for all. Safety and protecting children is always on parents’ minds. One topic that comes up every year is the identification of sexual predators in the community and whether or not such identification infringes on that person’s safety and rights.
Throughout the U.S., states have programs that prohibit registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween activities such as decorating or passing out candy. Many require that offenders notify the public by placing a sign on their residence indicating that they have no candy. MD Dept of Parole and Probation, who manages the Sex Offender Registry, has had a similar policy since 2005.
On October 14, 2015, A Federal lawsuit was filed in California claiming that such laws violate the First Amendment and puts sex offenders on parole in danger. The argument being that the signs compel speech and identify offenders who have no means to protect themselves due to not being able to possess firearms.
In 2012, Sex offenders in Simi Valley, CA successfully challenged a city ordinance in Federal Court citing a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Lawyers for the group California Reform Sex Offender Laws, CA RSOL, filed a lawsuit in Federal court during September 2013. That suit alleged that the city of Orange is violating sex offenders First Amendment rights by requiring the posting of signs on Halloween night. Lawyers felt that the ordinance placed sex offenders at risk. They also cited that there had not been a documented incident of a sex offender harming a child on Halloween night.
However these cases play out in court, nothing protects our children more than being involved. Chaperone your children, know where they’re going. Watch for and report suspicious activity.