Local and state authorities across the nation are putting registered sex offenders under one-night curfews or other restrictions on Halloween, reports the New York Times. The measures come at a time of growing unease about the most dangerous sexual predators. In the last year, two small children were abducted and killed in Florida and a 56-year-old woman was stabbed to death at a White Plains, N.Y., mall by registered sex offenders. Most states classify sex offenders by their likelihood of committing new crimes on parole or probation, but do not distinguish between pedophiles and those whose crimes are against adults.
Officials are concerned that Halloween presents a tantalizing opportunity for offenders to have unsupervised contact with children. “Here you have a unique situation where children are literally showing up at the doors of sex offenders,” said Andrew J. Spano, the Westchester County, N.Y., executive. New measures call for the offenders to either attend treatment programs for several hours on Halloween or to stay at home and not hand out candy. Probation and local police officers will go to the homes to ensure compliance. At least a half-dozen states have enacted such laws, including Texas, New Jersey, and Illinois. Virginia has had a program since 2002 called Operation Trick No Treat, in which high-risk offenders report to parole offices between 4:30 and 8 p.m. on Halloween. Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union called the new initiatives a “headline-grabbing response to a serious public health and safety issue.”