Calif. County Restricts Halloween for Sex Offenders

Government officials in at least one California county have passed legislation that prohibits registered sex offenders from giving out candy or other treats on Halloween.

Riverside County supervisors were joined by council members of some cities within the area located east of Orange County to prohibit sex offenders from leaving lights outside their residences during Halloween evening, according to news reports.

Other restrictions include a ban on passing out any candy or displaying Halloween decorations at the sex offender’s home. Registered offenders are not allowed to answer their doors to children who are trick or treating. The measure applies from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., on Oct. 31.

While the law approved last week applies to the unincorporated areas of Riverside County, the city of Temecula passed similar legislation Tuesday. County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who sponsored the bill, had asked cities in Riverside to join the county’s efforts to curtail contact between sex offenders and children on Halloween, the Press-Enterprise reported.

“The events of Halloween could put children unknowingly in close proximity to sexual offenders who have committed violations against children,” according to part of a Temecula city staff report published by the Enterprise. The city’s existing laws “are not adequate to address the current activities of sex offenders on Halloween,” officials reported.

“It is another way we can protect the youngsters of this community from coming into contact with sexual registrants,” Stone was quoted in the Enterprise.

The measure related to Halloween amends an existing Riverside ordinance that puts a restriction on where registered sex offenders can live and congregate.

Enforcing the law may mean that parents would need to look on the Megan’s Law online database to see if the registered sex offenders live in the path of their children’s trick or treating. Riverside County officials want residents to call the police if they discover an offender’s lights on or decorations at the residence.

The cities of Orange in Orange County, Calif., and San Jacinto in Riverside County have implemented similar measures, according to Stone.

Sacramento legislators more than likely did not take Halloween into account when creating Megan’s Law, said Supervisor John Benoit as reported by the Enterprise.

Benoit believes that state officials will someday have to address the potential loophole for sex offenders and the “idea that someone could stay in their home and attract children to their door.”

As the law stands, violators can be charged with a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.

Some parents and victims rights advocates are not so sure the new law will help or is even appropriate.

“I think this is a worthy effort, but it is not going to work,” Riverside County resident Julie Waltz told the Enterprise. “You can’t control these people. Are they truly law-abiding citizens? No, I don’t think so.”