On Halloween, focus on “sex offenders” misplaced, neglects real risks to children

By Sandy . . . Under the header, “Local law enforcement performs Halloween sex offender checks,” the second sentence of the article explains. “Designed to keep the community safe on Halloween, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Troy Police Department, conducted sex offender checks throughout the county, with positive results.”

The “positive results” are portrayed in a “crime scene” photo showing law enforcement officers detaining a man at his home in rural Lincoln County for the crime of having his porch light on.

Missouri is one of a few states whose legislature bought into the fabricated “Halloween effect” myth that sexual crime against children spiked at Halloween and that persons already on a registry for a previous sexual crime conviction are of heightened risk to children out trick-or-treating. The resultant legislation mandates no outside lights after 5 p.m. on Halloween evening, staying at home from 5 – 10:30, no Halloween-related contact with any children, and affixing a sign to the front of one’s residence announcing “No candy here.”

Every study done, every shred of evidence, shows this is a non-issue. This linking of Halloween to harm for children from those on the registry is a creation that started emerging right after 2000, and like a snowball speeding downhill, it grew and grew and by 2015 was a full-blown phenomenon.

In order to justify this legislation, states like Missouri, and many, many other individual jurisdictions around the country, created task-forces to deal with the issue by performing “Halloween sex offender compliance checks”, i.e., raids on the homes of law-abiding citizens, confining registered citizens to their homes for the hours of Halloween evening, and some even requiring registered citizens to submit to a “Halloween lock-up” at the jail or library or some such place under law enforcement guard.

The “positive results” are further explained: Legislation is being introduced to create a multi-agency program dedicated to address “the issue of sex offenders in Lincoln County.”

According to the Missouri Sex Offense Registry, 307 registrants live in Lincoln Co. A search finds one case in 2021, none in 2020, and one in 2019 in which a person on the registry was arrested for committing another sexual crime.

Or is this not the “issue” that this new legislation is designed to address? Is the issue that too many registrants had outside lights burning on Halloween? Or is the issue simply that persons on the registry live in the county and, due to the state-wide residency and proximity restrictions on where they can live, work and just exist, they are pushed into rural areas farther and farther from where they can find employment and have a decent shot at successful community integration? Is the “issue” that neighbors don’t want them anywhere?

It is sad and unfortunate that the “positive results” spoken of by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office did not extend to some portion of law enforcement being dedicated to traffic patrol and traffic checkpoint stops throughout the county Halloween evening. Had they been, is it possible that the little seven-year-old girl Lincoln County girl who was hit and severely injured by a pickup truck while trick or treating would not have been?

We’ll never know, will we?