By Sandy . . . It started around 2010, this conflation of Halloween and danger to children from those on the sexual offense registry. Based on a simple Google search in an informal study, there were zero articles on that subject up to 2002, when there was one. There was also one in 2004. Each year more were added; by 2010 there were forty, in 2012 a hundred, and in 2014 a hundred and seventy-seven.
That is when Patch joined in. One state, Illinois, featured a few of what came to be known as “red-dot” maps in 2013, but by 2015 they were on a roll with a dozen or more states printing their Patch “Halloween Sex Offender Safety Maps” with sub-headings like, “Find out which houses to avoid,” and “Check this map before your kids go out trick or treating.”
They had our attention.
A group spearheaded by our Connecticut affiliate organization One Standard of Justice and our Illinois affiliate group Illinois Voices developed a plan for a complex email campaign. Advocates across the nation participated, we divided up territory, and in 2016 every Patch writer or editor that published a Halloween Safety Map received one or more emails from us, emails stating some factual information and asking them to include it in their articles.
We had their attention. The years following saw battles, skirmishes, and outright wars.
2017 was a year of much give and take. We wrote an open letter of protest to Patch, and to our great surprise they published it, albeit under the title, “Sex Offender Advocates Object to Local Mapping of Registered Sex Criminals.” One of their chief editors, Dennis Robaugh, retaliated with a piece entitled, “ ‘Then I See The Delight In Your Eyes Turn To Fear’ ” with a subtitle, “This is why Patch publishes local sex offender maps.” It is the story of Lisa French, a young Wisconsin girl who was raped and murdered on Halloween by a neighbor in 1973, and virtually every Patch in the country ran the two together in 2017 and for several years after. Publication of my response to his Lisa French piece was declined by Patch.
The next couple of years we focused on emailing Patch editors throughout the U.S., on op-eds, on press releases, and on registered mail sent to Patch headquarters.
2020 was our pièce de resistance. Partnered with One Standard of Justice, NARSOL produced and distributed a statement solidifying all the scientific evidence available negating any increased risk to children at Halloween from those on a sexual offense registry. It was signed on to by well over a hundred organizations and individuals, many prestigious academics, researchers, and others; and by all of NARSOL’s affiliates, contacts, and advocates, a total of over 200 signatures.
Whether it was this alone, whether an accumulation of everything, or whether something else altogether, we do not know. Nor do we know if this is permanent or temporary. What we do know is that for Halloween 2021 and the weeks leading up to it, as far as we are able to determine and except for one state, no “red-dot” maps appeared in Patch articles. No Halloween safety maps were published pointing out where registered persons lived. No warnings were given to parents regarding those on the registry by Patch writers or editors.
Except for one state.
Illinois continued. Patches in that state published their maps and issued their warnings, and then many of them also published some of the facts and even a statement from ATSA giving more facts.
The first state to start this is the last state to give it up.
So Patch, we thank you. We appreciate what you have done – or rather, not done. We sincerely hope that this continues and that you will be able to get Illinois on board.
Unlimited thanks and appreciation also go every advocate, every person who worked on this, and especially to Connecticut’s One Standard of Justice for being dedicated to this from beginning to – I won’t say end because we don’t know if it is.
But we have hopes.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, 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.
9 Thoughts to “For 2021, Patch’s “red-dot” maps were (almost) gone; thank you, Patch!”
This is a good thing, for sure, but we still have states such as Louisiana that require registered citizens to hide in their homes, doors and windows shut and locked, all outside lights off, with instructions to not answer the door unless the visitor is identified as law enforcement, who, by the way, visit all registered citizens to verify compliance on Halloween night.
This is completely ridiculous, but continues year after year, with felony penalties for non compliance.
I would love to see challenges begin to combat this.
And so would we!
There is nothing in the LA code that requires this that we can find, only a prohibition against handing out candy. Are there local ordinances requiring the things you talk about? Please find out, and if there are none, contact an attorney if you possibly can.
Please write me at communication.com and tell me what county you are in.
TN has very similar policy. In Shelby county, at least, LEOs visit every PFR in the week or so prior to Halloween.
Again, is this in state statutes or jurisdictional/county ordinances? If so, it is hard to fight –not impossible but harder. It is easier if some sheriff is just making it up as he goes. Is it just visitations for those not under supervision? That is most likely allowed under state statutes, and it might be hard to prove this visit causes undue hardship.
If under supervision, the rules change. They can, and do, take an active role in this issue for those under supervision.
Same situation in Wisconsin. Also no pumpkins (type not identified). This has not been challenged.
Here in Ohio, we have no law forbidding registrants from handing out candy or house arrest.
However, Mike DeWine took it upon himself to include our license plate, year and make, color and model of car, and internet identifiers public information on the internet, of which there is nowhere in the Ohio Revised Code that those are to be made publicly available on the SO website.
Does anyone else find it odd that no one seemed to worry about people with sexual offenses PRIOR TO the SOR? Even when the SOR was implemented, Halloween wasn’t a concern. Funny how people seem to think that when they were trick or treating back in the 80’s and early 90’s, they seemed to not give a hoot whose house they went to or what that person handing out candy might have done in their past. People seriously think that sex offenses didn’t happen until the ones that brought about the registry.
We need to keep talking about this and reminding people of how this country USED to be.
I’m sure if we dug deep enough, we’d find people who did their trick or treating for years at the same houses in their neighborhoods until the day when it became a thing to worry about “sex offenders” and they discovered that they’ve been going to the homes of “sex offenders” all those years with (obviously) no issues.
Just some food for thought.
Thank You Narsol! I know the fight is difficult but mabie its time to some how take this to a new level. Fighting in court is not working because the courts are too afraid to back us because of the fear of back lash from the misinformed blind people running amok in this country. Mabie its time to get more aggressive. We can look at the registry in all of our states and contact each other to form a group far better than the bulling group “therapy” and get an aggressive group that will go into a place like the sex offender management board SOMB here in colorado during a meeting and look them in the eye and tell them we are not going to continue with their BS. I believe this has become a MUST for any kind of victory for us. I AM READY, who is with me? They rely on us being scared and weak to continue their assault on us. Divided we are still weak. Together we will be strong. The only way to win a war.
I think your response piece may have fallen on deaf ears prior to getting to the most important part of the piece. You mention guns and cars in the beginning of the piece, but that argument I feel is a very weak one. The reason I feel that way is because guns and cars cause death, but they don’t cause the heinous harm done to a child as a result of rape or molestation. One may argue that death is worse, but there are many things worse than death and the evil abuse of a child is definitely one of them.
Near the end of your piece (presumably after those editors stopped reading in my opinion), you get to the heart of the most important argument; that the perpetrator had no history and therefore would not have been on the registry. Below is an excerpt from their piece:
“In all the years we’ve published sex-offender maps or sat in bond court, we’ve never heard of people marching with torches to a child predator’s home. We have, however, seen many parents weep in court because their child was raped or molested.” – Patch
To their credit, they did mention NARSOL and your original press release asking them to stop, but there’s another couple of arguments here that need to be made in response:
1. Never heard of torch-bearing, but there have been many documented cases of registrants attacked, harassed, and intimidated due to the registry. All of these cases are much more recent compared to the murder of Lisa French.
2. Seen many parents weep in court? Since the maps have been published? Wouldn’t that be an argument that the maps aren’t doing anything productive?
I also get tired of the #metoo argument that “many cases go unreported” so it’s difficult to determine true recidivism. That can literally apply to any crime or any statistic if it’s a valid argument, so what’s the point of statistics? If it’s unreported, how can they determine that many go unreported?
My point and goal with this comment is to hopefully help you understand that for them to have a conversation with us, we need to be extremely factual and present arguments that will be heard. The people reading our opposing opinions do not have an open mind and come from a position of hatred for people in our position. My goal is to change the perception and stereotype. Then and only then will they start listening to what we have to say.