Sex offenders on Halloween are like zebras at church

edited 11/12

By Sandy . . . In 1996 the North Carolina General Assembly created the public sex offender registry and established the crimes, the requirements, and the consequences pursuant to it.

2005 is the first year that I am able to verify law enforcement action involving special requirements for those on the registry at Halloween.

A piece from Gaston County, NC, in 2011 speaks of registrants under supervision being ordered to spend three hours at the courthouse on Halloween evening for the sixth year.

Why did this action occur?

Had there, between 1996 and 2005, been a rash of sexual reoffenses committed by persons on the registry in connection with Halloween activities in Gaston County or anywhere in the state of North Carolina?

No, there had not.

Had there, between 1996 and 2005, been a rash of sexual reoffenses committed by persons on the registry in connection with Halloween activities in any state? No, there had not. Had there been even one, in any state?

No, there had not. 

It is unclear how many other counties in North Carolina were joining in this initiative to protect its children from a threat that did not exist. It is obvious that many other states were joining in, beginning around the same time or a little later.

Neighboring South Carolina reports 2015 as being the tenth year that supervised registrants in Charleston County were under a mandated curfew with no lights-no candy-no parties orders. The piece concludes with a probation agent saying, ” ‘We’ve been doing it for ten long years and we’ve been very, very successful.’ ” Assuming he is measuring success by the fact that all children remained unmolested by registrants on Halloween, he neglects to point out that they were just as successful from 1996 through 2004 while they were doing nothing.

The media was a little slow to catch up. Articles responding to a “North Carolina+law enforcement+sex offender+Halloween” search were sparse approaching 2012 or 2013, and then they jumped exponentially. This jibes with a bit of informal research I did in 2014 about the proliferation of “sex offender/Halloween hysteria” media pieces in all of the states with these results:

2000  0 articles
2001  1 article, written by someone denouncing the rumors of children’s deaths by poison in treats; he calls it Halloween sadism; sex offenders are not mentioned, but I found it interesting.
2002  0
2003  3; California, Louisiana, and a third I was unable to determine announced their creation of laws restricting the activities of registrants on Halloween.
2004  1
2005  11; Megan’s Law was mentioned in two of the entries
2006  8
2007  15
2008  60  My guess is that SORNA was becoming a motivating factor.
2009  23
2010  40
2011  66
2012  100
2013  117
2014  177

Halloween sex offender hysteria is now in full court press in North Carolina. Patch includes parts of the state with their red-dot maps. Somewhere along the way it got a cute little name: Operation Scarecrow, taking its place with California’s “Operation Boo,” Georgia’s “Watchful Eye,” Louisiana’s “Boo Dat,” and several others more pragmatically and simply named “Operation Halloween.”

In spite of the calls for reason and policies based on fact, — and thankfully they too increase yearly — the hysteria continues.

For those familiar with the concepts of microcosm and macrocosm, North Carolina is the microcosm. There are somewhere around fifteen states that do absolutely nothing in regard to Halloween and sex offenders – and they too have a record of zero children harmed by registrants during activities – but except for them, the rest of the nation is the macrocosm. I picked North Carolina to do a deep dive partially because it is one of the states where a child was injured or killed in a traffic accident while trick or treating and where law enforcement in that county was focusing on registrants in regards to safety rather than traffic, the one risk to children that is significantly higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year.

The laws affecting those on sexual offense registries at Halloween are among, if not THE, most poorly conceived laws in existence. We could, with as much evidentiary support for need, construct laws that forbid zebras from attending Sunday night church services or require everyone entering an antique store to wear one blue sock and one brown one.

One that we would heartily endorse, however, is one requiring that every law passed be accompanied with empirical evidence that it is needed.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #48744 Reply

      The logic is placed in the public availability of children. Law enforcement fails to acknowledge the negative implications that naturally flow from the policy of suggestion of general danger. It pre-supposes public sidewalks and homes are hazardous to children because the community is full of bad people. That presumptive posture, in general and ironically on Halloween is degrading the pride of community. It teaches our children distrust EVERYONE EVERYDAY by default. The adults have stolen Halloween.

    • #48765 Reply

      The North Carolina Court of Appeals in NC v Griffin adopted the following from the 4th Circuit:

      The State tries to overcome its lack of data, social science
      or scientific research, legislative findings, or other
      empirical evidence with a renewed appeal to anecdotal case
      law, as well as to “logic and common sense.” But neither
      anecdote, common sense, nor logic, in a vacuum, is
      sufficient to carry the State’s burden of proof.

      Griffin addressed reasonableness regarding the State’s satellite based monitoring program, its requirements, and constitutional implications, ultimately finding the program unreasonable as applied to Griffin. I would argue that logic can/should apply to the registry itself en masse, rather than challenging its associated rules and restrictions piece-by-piece on a case-by-case basis.

    • #48784 Reply

      Sex offenders are like zebra’s at church Interesting. I wonder who keeps scientific records today of human behavior or has scientific logic gotten more sophisticated that they (government) know when a leaper changes its spots. Are we all anima’sl or just zebra’s at a church today. Now all this series of NARSOL is about the offender but to have an offender one has to have an offense. I wonder who offends even more, the controller or the controllee Even with today’s goverrnment is its about behavior. Sure we could talk about presidental behavior and its eroding effect into governmental area’s, We could even talk about juduicial behavior, but what about sexual behavior. Do we all not have a form of sexuality or sexual behavior.

      Sure man in his logical mind can keep records, data, or whatever today, use technology but proof has always been in the pudding. Who has a naughty or potty mouth today, who sets up people for a fall. Governments have always wanted to be above the little people. Most all these internet sex sting’s done via a computer have at the core a sexual flavor to it that entice’s destruction and for the teenager or anyone else for that matter it leads to a whole bunch of complications, even at times to imprisonment or ultimate death.

      Its not all about the Halloween data or who win’s or who’s right and who’s wrong. Its all about principal and what is right or who’s correcting and who’s deceiving. If their wasn’t deceit in these sting operations thru this internet than law enforcement need to go back to the constitution and its basic principals.

      It only common sense for those in government to entice with a type of sexual flavoring on another. I am sure that is all mingled up in the moral law of man’s justice, but is it really justice? I wonder whos stumbling block is following over who’s with the way government has ran amuck.

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