Trick or treat? Halloween is drawing near, but for convicted sex offenders who committed crimes against children, there won’t be any candy to hand out on the 31st, as the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to bar such sex offenders from decorating their homes and handing out candy to kids on Halloween. If children ring the doorbells of their homes, they must not answer their door on Halloween according to the ordinance. Their homes' exterior lights must also be turned off between 5 p.m. and midnight Oct. 31. The first draft of the ordinance also stipulated that a sign would have to be posted that stated, “No candy or treats at this residence.” (But on Halloween, surely that is just asking for trouble; supervisors did ultimately remove that provision.) There are reportedly 764 registered sex offenders living in Tulare County and failure to comply with the ordinance’s terms could result in a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail or both. However, Tulare County Public Defender Michael Sheltzer was not in favor of the measure and criticized it, noting that it is legally questionable and could violate sex offenders’ First Amendment rights. The Porterville Recorder reports that Sheltzer said the following:
“The number of people offending on Halloween is zero. This statute addresses the fear of crime rather than the actual risk of crime. We do need to be protected from sex offenders, but this will give people a sense of false security.”
Supervisors obviously felt differently, arguing it was an important preventive step for the safety of kids on the holiday. The Visalia Times-Delta reports that it was passed as “an ‘urgency ordinance,’ allowing the county to skip a first and second public reading so that supervisors could vote right away.” Read more here and here.