By R. L. Morgan, Guest Blogger . . .
Every year, while thousands of families will be enjoying bobbing for apples, wearing favorite costumes, and going door-to-door trick or treating, many of the 800,000 persons on the sex offender registry will be unable to participate in any type of Halloween activity. In most states, those who have been placed on the sex offender registry have to endure some very harsh restrictions, especially on October 31st. Some of these restrictions include early curfews outside the normal purview of their registration, a requirement to submit to warrantless searches, a mandate against turning on any outside lights, and even, in some places, a requirement for registrants to place a sign on their houses or in their yards stating they can’t participate in trick or treat activities.
All of these ridiculous restrictions serve no safety purpose as there is no correlation between sex offenders and Halloween; research verifies no increase in sexual assaults at Halloween. These only serve as a panacea to soothe the media-induced hysteria related to those who are required to register. In fact, statistics and data show that the public registry itself does not serve a public safety function. So the question is why we continue to waste precious resources and tax dollars to enforce heavy restrictions against those for whom there is no documented danger or threat.
We all know that being hard on registered sex offenders is easy political capital, and it is virtual political suicide to stand up and acknowledge the uselessness of the registry and the burdensome restrictions that local law enforcement agencies can and often do place on registrants. Society paints all those on the registry with the same brush, failing to make any distinction between “Romeo and Juliet” type cases and those who may pose an actual public threat.
If law enforcement can add extra restrictions and burdens upon citizens for Halloween, what’s to stop them from adding them for other holidays, birthdays, or other celebrations? What about those registrants with children? Must those children suffer not being able to celebrate a holiday simply because of a fear that is totally lacking in evidence or proof? How will those who are trying to put their lives back together and move forward do so when society and law enforcement continue to throw their legal past in their faces?
This is the real “trick or treat.” It’s a trick to think that throwing all of these extra hurdles and restrictions at those registered will enable everyone else to enjoy Halloween activities without fear of the “monsters.” The only ones who enjoy the “treat” aspect are those politicians and those businesses gaining political favor and financial gain from these egregious regulations. Maybe these politicians, law officers, and uninformed citizens have been wearing their “costumes” for too long and it’s time for them to come off. Let’s work together and work wiser, avoiding the reactive and the fear mongering. Ultimately, regardless of all the restrictions placed on registrants, the truth is they are not the ones to be worried about. Trick or treat!