Halloween Cause-and-Effect Issue: Do Sex Offender Laws Help Prevent Crime?


There’s no evidence of more sex crimes against children on Halloween, but some experts argue that special laws restricting offenders on the holiday are effective. “The reason there are fewer incidents isn't because of a change in the offenders themselves, but because of increased supervision and awareness,” Steve Lurie, an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University in Los Angeles, tells the Dallas Morning News. “On Halloween, parents, guardians and mentors are more aware.” Jill Levenson, an associate professor at Lynn University, said the greatest risk to trick-or-treaters is getting hit by a car. Researchers at the Florida school determined that there was no change in sexual assaults on Halloween, or even in the weeks that followed, in comparison to the rest of the year.

“The laws restricting sex offenders make parents and communities feel safer, but there's no proof that they reduce the risk of sexual abuse,” Levenson said. “Law enforcement should be directing their efforts towards crimes that are more commonly seen on Halloween, like vandalism.” Many police departments conduct door-to-door checks to monitor convicted sex offenders on Halloween. Plano, Tx., officers will go to offenders' homes to ensure that they're complying with the law. “Typically Halloween is a big night for checks because there will be more children walking around neighborhoods than a typical night in the city,” said Plano police spokesman David Tilley, who noted the city hasn't experienced an increase in sex-related crimes on that date.

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