October 30, 2014

Are Sex Offenders Unfairly Persecuted on Halloween?

10-30-2014 National:

On Halloween night, Andrew will celebrate the holiday the way most married fathers do: He and his wife will go trick-or-treating with their two kids, who are nine and 12; maybe afterward, they’ll head to their church to finish off the night with games and snacks.

But Andrew’s family isn’t like other families, because Andrew is a registered sex offender.

Sex offenders are the closest thing we have to real-life monsters on Halloween—and surely, few things can horrify a parent like the thought of his or her child being snatched up by a pervert while trick-or-treating. But there is no evidence that children are more likely to be abducted, assaulted, or abused on Halloween than on any other day. Crime data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System shows that there is no recorded spike in sex crimes before or after the holiday.

Even so, many states have adopted draconian measures to protect kids from stranger danger on Halloween. In Missouri, if you're on the sex-offender registry on October 31, you have to be in your house from 5 PM to 10:30 PM unless you have a really good reason; you also have to turn off your porch lights and put up a sign announcing "No candy or treats at this residence." Other states and local jurisdictions have similar restrictions that prohibit sex offenders from dressing up in costumes, decorating their homes, or driving after dark.

These regulations, which extend the reach of Megan’s Law—a nickname for a category of statutes that are designed to prevent child molesters from preying on the kids in their neighborhood—would be a great help if sex offenders were all fundamentally evil would-be rapists and killers. But most registered sex offenders are not convicted of violent crimes. The crimes that can make you a "sex offender" range from rape to sexting with a teen to—in some states—public urination. And it should be noted that even for more serious crimes, recidivism rates for sex offenders are extremely low—only about 5 percent commit another sex crime after being released from prison. In 2008 the Department of Justice concluded that “Megan’s Law showed no demonstrable effect in reducing sexual re-offenses." So why have these Halloween restrictions at all? ..Continued..Below Video.. by Arielle Pardes

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