“A gimmick to make people feel safe,” says NARSOL’s vice-chair

Reprinted with permission

By Travis Loller, AP . . . Sex offenders under community supervision in Tennessee are required to be in their homes with the porch lights off on Halloween as part of a 10-day curfew surrounding the holiday. They also cannot decorate or give out candy.

And offenders are not allowed to take children trick or treating or to seasonal activities like corn mazes and hay rides, not even their own children.

Alisha James is assistant commissioner of community supervision at the Tennessee Department of Correction.

“I am a parent of two school aged children and I rest better knowing that TDOC is doing this added function,” she said in a news release. “Many of our officers give up trick or treating with their own families to protect the children of this state.”

Robin Vander Wall, vice chair of the National Association for Rational Sex Offense Laws, said in a phone interview research has shown children are not at increased danger from registered sex offenders at Halloween.

“We see it as a gimmick to make people feel safe,” he said. “The real danger to kids on Halloween is vehicular accidents.”

Vander Wall said the nonprofit is operating a hotline on Halloween night for sex offenders to call in if they think their rights are being violated. But Vander Wall said the Tennessee Department of Correction is within its rights to impose rules on those it supervises.

Registered sex offenders who are not under department supervision are not subject to the Halloween restrictions.

The Tennessee rules apply not just to those whose crimes involved children, but to all registered sex offenders under community supervision. The Correction Department said that is nearly 3,300 people. Officers will be visiting offenders on Halloween night to ensure they are in compliance.

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