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Sex offenders locked down, in the dark for Halloween

  • Story Highlights
  • Sex offenders face widespread bans from Halloween activities
  • Some localities round up offenders in law enforcement centers
  • Some say no evidence sex offenders pose special danger on Halloween
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(CNN) -- Scores of sex offenders in Anderson, South Carolina, will be corralled for Halloween tonight in a move authorities say is needed to keep kids safe as they trick or treat.

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Keeping trick or treaters safe from sex offenders is a priority for many law enforcement officials on Halloween.

"At 5 p.m., we are going to require all of our probation/parole/pardon sex offenders to report to the office and they'll remain here from 5 to 10:30 p.m," agent Gerald Black, with the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon, told CNN affiliate WYFF.

Authorities in Roanoke, Virginia, will do the same. "You have a safer public. We have all the offenders in this area that are on probation or parole in one location. We know where they are," Randy Phillips with the Department of Corrections told CNN affiliate WSLS.

While there's a debate about the need for restrictions and authorities aren't imposing such stringent restrictions everywhere, special limits on sex offenders for the evening are widespread.

"Our agents will be out in force, checking on sex offenders, to ensure that they stay behind locked doors, in dark houses, with absolutely no contact with 'trick-or-treaters' on Halloween night," said Tom Hoffman, California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation director of parole. Video Watch how communities are making streets safer at Halloween »

Paroled offenders in California have a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, cannot leave any outside lights on and may not answer their doors except for law enforcement. Illinois offenders face similar restrictions, including a ban on dressing in a costume.

Tennessee Rules

Tennessee, in common with many other communities, has issued rules for sex offenders on Halloween. State law mandates the following for sex offenders:

  • Do not answer the door to trick-or-treaters

  • No passing out of candy to children

  • No holiday decorations on homes

  • No visits to haunted houses, corn mazes, hay rides or other seasonal activities

  • Do not attend any party where children are gathered

  • No costumes

  • No trick-or-treating

Source: State of Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole

Sheriff's deputies in Harris County, Texas, have been checking homes of sex offenders for Halloween decorations and are ready to arrest violators.

"We actually have probation officers riding with us," Precinct 7 Deputy Johnathon Davis told CNN affiliate KPRC. "They're going to issue them a citation or their probation is going to be revoked."

About 2,000 registered sex offenders in Maryland will be required to post "No Candy" signs on their doors on Halloween night.

Michigan and Wisconsin are among states urging parents to check the state's public sex offender registry before venturing out in search of treats.

"For many parents, Halloween represents a time when our children fan out into neighborhoods that may not be familiar," Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox told CNN affiliate WDIV. "Doing a timely check of the sex offender registry can help parents be informed about potential risks in the community and take appropriate measures to safeguard their children."

Authorities in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, took preventative measures Sunday, arresting 11 sex offenders on probation and parole violations during a sweep of 100 homes, CNN affiliate WISN reported.

One of the Milwaukee offenders was arrested after police found a candy dish and children's toys, both prohibited items, in his apartment.

But some say the sex offender roundups and restrictions are more show than safety.

"There has not been a single case of any child being molested by a convicted sex offender while trick-or-treating," writes columnist Benjamin Radford on LiveScience.com.

Don't Miss

Rebecca Brunger, an Alaska probation officer, told the Anchorage Daily News her state doesn't put any extra restrictions on sex offenders on Halloween as there's never been a case there of a trick-or-treater being molested by a registered offender.

Idaho defense attorney Tim Gresback told the Spokesman-Review, in Spokane, Washington, that extra Halloween restrictions on sex offenders are unnecessary.

"Here we're creating a new police action squad to go out and address a problem that has never manifested itself in the community," Gresback told the newspaper. He said in 20 years he'd never run across a case of a sex offender attacking a child on Halloween.

But states and communities don't want to take any chances.

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New York offenders face a 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew coupled with phone calls and visits from probation officers.

"Our Halloween operation gives parents, caregivers, law enforcement and the community added assurance that children will be protected and neighborhoods will be safe from known predators," said George B. Alexander, chairman of the New York state Division of Parole. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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