NARSOL to Ben Hill Co. GA sheriff: No “Halloween-sex offender warning” yard signs

On the heels of the publicity about the suits filed in Georgia against the sheriffs of Butts and Spalding Counties for unauthorized placement of Halloween yard signs on the property of those on the registry comes the announcement from the sheriff’s department of yet another Georgia county of their intent to place the signs. Sheriff Lee Cone in Ben Hill County intends to follow suit with his fellow sheriffs’ actions from last Halloween, and NARSOL did likewise.

We wrote and hand-delivered a “cease and desist” letter to the sheriff’s office with a copy sent to Anthony Rowell, the Ben Hill County Attorney. The action was announced to national media via a news release the same day that the letter was delivered, October 25. With Halloween a week away, there is no time to lose.

Read the press release.

Read the letter to Sheriff Cone.

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    • #61016 Reply
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      NoSoyNadie

      So when do we have to start warring scarlet letters and putting them on our houses

    • #61019 Reply
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      JEV

      This is no surprise as the same County allows Moonshiners and White Supremacists! The biggest argument to notification to the public to RSO’s on Halloween are cases of child abuse that have been prosecuted because children trick or treaters came upon a sex offender’s home and were abused. If that is the case and its become acute then we need the signs. But not only is there not a single case of said abuse there is no evidence that any convicted Sex Offender has used this night to abuse a single child. If there are cases in Georgia I would love to see them. These made up Cop Laws are influenced by the media also making up stories about beware of sex offenders on Halloween to boost local TV Ratings. I’m not against cops checking on Offenders but putting up signage creates a vigilantism and furthers the possibility of violence and capital crime against the sex offender themselves. It actually reverses the protection of children to possible felony violent crime against RSO’s. JEV – True Confessions

    • #61018 Reply
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      totally against public registry

      Beautifully put in the letter sent to the sheriff. Thank you NARSOL for protecting the rights of the citizens of this country!

    • #61025 Reply
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      James Coghill

      You have to ask yourself why this holiday? Is it really just because it’s a holiday for kids? Christmas is too. You don’t have signs being put in peoples yards over Christmas or any other holiday. Or is this simply because it’s a holiday associated with Satan and the Devil? And that isn’t even religiously or historically accurate. I actually hate Halloween because it causes people to focus their attention on some very dark things and then they don’t understand that by doing that it causes their behavior to change unconsciously. Give someone a hammer and everything becomes a nail. That’s never a good thing!

    • #61029 Reply
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      Capt Charles Munsey Jr. USN Ret

      Any such signs in my yard would end up in the trash. Fortunately Brevard County Florida has, at least not yet, fall’in into the “stupid, uneducated” trap some of the sheriffs in Georgia have. I guess these sheriffs have to do something to justify their existence.

    • #61031 Reply
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      Mark William Gilbert

      So the sheriff wants to protect children- don’t we all. I would suggest he place patrol cars at the exit of ever bar and nightclub in the county, and test the patrons driving home for DUI. There are FAR MORE children (and adults too) killed by drunk drivers than sex offenders.

    • #61032 Reply
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      GaReform

         The Butts County case is using the argument that the sheriff placing the signs violates the rights of the people being targeted. The First Amendment protects our ability to speak but it also protects us from being forced to proclaim statements we don’t support.
         There was a case in the 70s, Wooley vs Maynard, that went to the Supreme Court. It was filed by a man that protested having the state’s motto on his license plate. He argued that it required him to display a statement he didn’t  endorse so it violated his First Amendment. 
      The Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision, ruled it was against the Constitution to force citizens to use private property as a “mobile billboard for the state’s ideological message.” In the years since that decision, Wooley vs. Maynard has become one of the most important First Amendment cases in U.S. history. 
      By the sheriff forcing law abiding registrants to display warning signs in their yards, they are being forced to display a message that is basically the sheriff’s idealogical message.
        Many uninformed/unaffected people won’t have sympathy to the argument that registered peoples’ rights have been violated because they hold fast to the idea that if you commit the crime, you suffer the consequences. In essence, if you get a criminal conviction, you cease to be human with the ability to enjoy the same rights as the rest of us.
          Singling people out for punishment that wasn’t  part of their sentence is vindictive.  It should say more about the character of the people promoting that public humiliation than it does of the people being targeted.
          If the aim of these signs is protecting the public then why aren’t people convicted of DUI offenses also targeted & required to have magnetic signs placed on any vehicles they drive?
         Society can excuse someone who has a DUI because “everyone drinks” & probably has driven or knows someone who has driven when they were less than sober. Their view is that sex crimes are committed by depraved people…until it happens to someone they know (or themselves).
         I hope the lawsuit is decided in favor of the people & class action status is granted. This sign lawsuit decision impacts over 50 registrants in Butts County alone.
         A message needs to be sent to other sheriffs, & the world, that laws (courts) decide the length & scope of a person’s punishment. Personal beliefs or just plain ignorance is not an acceptable reason for going further than that. 

    • #61033 Reply
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      Cynthia Gatlin

      Thank you for taking a stand against such exhibitions. Nobody should be forced to publicly display past crimes once they have served their time.
      This group of people have to go through so much more, once released, than any other group that has spent time behind bars. They don’t need the additional worry of possibly having their family attacked because of the poor judgement of local law enforcement.

    • #61042 Reply
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      Kurt

      NARSOL is right on the money with these actions, and the Sheriffs in question are abusing their power and violating the rights of the citizens they swore to protect.
      If some registrants are still on parole or probation, I would think that their P/O could require some kind of notice that this house is not one to trick-or-treat at. Perhaps a hand-made sign, unique, that doesn’t clearly indicate “Our Sheriff Wants You To Know a Pervert Lives Here!”
      Georgia has a public sex offender registry. Let parents do their “due diligence” and look up the streets they intend to send their kids to for trick or treating, and avoid the houses of those people. The tools are out there, parents. Use them. If you’re too stupid or lazy to do that, you certainly don’t have any business sending law enforcement out to detain / arrest registered ex-felons, or put signs in THEIR yards. Is knowing where sex offenders live so your kids can avoid knocking on their doors important to you, OR NOT? If you really think it’s important, and you aren’t just pretending to be concerned about what you know in your heart is a non-issue, just because you are a silly person who needs some extra drama in your life and don’t get enough from watching daytime television, then YOU should get off the couch and actually put in a little bit of legwork to keep your own kids safe. Is that too much to expect of you, Georgia parents?

    • #61044 Reply
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      JJJJ

      I just emailed Sheriff Lee Cone of Ben Hill County Georgia. lcone@benhillcounty.com
      Here is what the email said:
      SUBJECT: A Statement from ATSA
      BODY: Hello:
      Here is a statement (attached) from ATSA that you may find informative.

      The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers is an international, multi-disciplinary organization dedicated to making society safer by preventing sexual abuse. ATSA promotes sound research, effective evidence-based practice, informed public policy, and collaborative community strategies that lead to the effective assessment, treatment, and management of individuals who have sexually abused or are at risk to abuse.

      ATSA’s members include treatment providers, researchers and educators, victims’ rights advocates, law enforcement and court officials, and representatives of many other stakeholder groups. The core values that guide ATSA are professional excellence, community safety, collaboration, and advocacy. ATSA promotes the philosophy that empirically based assessment, practice, management, and policies enhance community safety, reduce sexual recidivism, protect victims and vulnerable populations, transform the lives of those caught in the web of sexual violence, and illuminate paths to prevent sexual abuse.

      ATTACHMENT (as pdf):
      A Statement from the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. (ATSA)

      As October arrives and families begin preparing for Halloween, it is always a priority to ensure children’s safety during this holiday. It is important to learn the facts and know the risks to your child during this festive time. A heightened risk of being sexually abused is NOT one of the dangers children face at Halloween.

      The simple fact is that there are no significant increases in sex crimes on or around Halloween. There is no “Halloween effect.” There is no change in the rate of sexual crimes by non-family members during Halloween. That was true both before and after communities enacted laws to restrict the activities of registrants during Halloween.

      The crimes that do increase around Halloween are vandalism and property destruction, as well as theft, assault, and burglary. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control, children are four times more likely to be killed by a pedestrian/motor-vehicle accident on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

      Fully 93% of sexual assaults on children are perpetrated by someone known to, and trusted by, the child and the child’s family. But due to the myths regarding child sexual abuse that focus on “stranger danger,” communities and lawmakers often endorse policies that do little to prevent sexual abuse and instead unnecessarily stretch limited law enforcement resources.

      Jurisdictions that ban individuals on sex offender registries from participating in any Halloween activities, require registrants to post signs in their yards during Halloween, or round up registrants for the duration of trick-or-treating do not make children safer. Instead, these approaches create a false sense of safety while using law enforcement resources that could be better spent protecting children against the higher risk they do face during Halloween – injury or death from motor vehicles.

      Child sexual abuse is a serious public health issue that faces all communities. Although the prevalence of child sexual abuse can be difficult to determine due to under-reporting, researchers estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims of sexual abuse before age 18.

      For concerned parents, the best way to protect children from sexual abuse is to know the facts about sexual offending and take precautions based on facts, not fears. Parents can visit http://www.atsa.com to learn more about sexual abuse and prevention.

    • #61056 Reply
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      David

      This is EXACTLY what the public needs to see!!!
      Facts from a group that actually treats people with wrongfully motivated sexual tendencies!!
      What a great piece JJJJ!!!!!
      Post that everywhere!!!!

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