October 9, 2014

Halloween law applies to all sex offenders

10-9-2014 Missouri:

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department plans to enforce a broader interpretation of a law that requires sex offenders to remain indoors on Halloween.

“Its about opportunity,” investigator Kenneth Shryock explained. “And what better way to have opportunity to be around all types of small children than on Halloween.”

The department released a statement saying that registered sex offenders are required by law to avoid all Halloween-related contact with children and remain inside their residence between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Offenders also must post a sign stating “No candy or treats at this residence” and leave all residential lighting off during the evening hours.

And in accordance with the Buchanan County zero-tolerance enforcement, “If they don’t, then they come to jail,” Mr. Shryock said bluntly.

This change also requires additional man hours for the department. Under the old interpretation of the law, officers had to check on just more than 80 homes. Now, deputies will be knocking on the doors of all 272 registered offenders in Buchanan County.

The effort is a positive step, according to area children advocates.

The Northwest Missouri Children’s Advocacy Center on Woodbine Road provides counseling and forensic interviews with children who are victims of alleged abuse. Director Joyce Estes said this kind of diligence is needed.

“It’s true that most children that are abused are abused by someone known to the child, the family, whatever ...,” Ms. Estes said. “But that’s 80 percent. There’s still another 20 percent of children out there that are abused by strangers.”

This is a good move in part because the biggest group of trick-or-treaters falls into the largest victim group as well.

“There’s a lot of kids under 6 that are abused, but between 6 and 12 is the largest group,” Ms. Estes said.

Mr. Shryock agrees the risk is greater on a candy-gathering evening.

“You got the kids out there on Halloween, some of them unsupervised by parents,” he said. “If that offender’s previous conviction is on a small child, the tendency to reoffend on a small child is very high.”

In the past, there were opinions that the law could only be applied on people who were listed as sex offenders after August 2008, because of the state prohibition on retroactive punishments. The Sheriff’s Department said recent court rulings suggest the law can be enforced on all sex offenders. ..Source.. by Julie Love

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