Many people look forward to Halloween as a time to carve pumpkins, dress up in a costume or hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. But for people who have been convicted of a sex offense, Halloween can be just another reminder that they made a mistake and are still paying the price for it.

Numerous states in the U.S., including Florida, have laws that limit the activities of sex offenders on Halloween. Some states require people who are registered as sex offenders to put out a sign saying “No candy;” other states permit police to randomly check on registered sex offenders to make sure they are home and don’t have their lights on; in Florida, paroled sex offenders are prohibited from wearing a costume on Halloween or passing out candy. All these measures are aimed at protecting people and preventing recidivism, but are they even effective?

There are many people who argue that no; these measures are not effective. Critics of these programs say that they do little more than unnecessarily punish people and drum up fears that someone will re-offend.

Sources have reported that there is no evidence to support claims that incidences of sexual abuse are any higher on Halloween. There are also reports that many of the people on the sex offender registry are not at a measurable risk of re-offending. Yet, these laws send a message that all sex offenders are dangerous and pose an active threat to children.

The reality, however, is that many people on the list of sex offenders are not on there because they have been convicted of serious crimes involving children. They may have committed an offense decades ago when they were young; they may have been suffering from mental or psychological illnesses that have since been diagnosed and treated. But people hear “sex offender” and assume the worst.

While this post should further reinforce the need for aggressive defense against sex crime charges, it should also remind people who have been convicted of a sex crime that they can still face penalties for violating the terms of parole or the sex offender registry. 

Source: FindLaw.com, “Halloween Sex Offender Laws,” accessed on Oct. 28, 2014