Are Sex Offender Halloween Laws Constitutional?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 27, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Halloween is a time for costumes, candy, and revelry, but it is also perceived as a time when children are more susceptible to sexual predators' attacks.

Perhaps that's because it's one of the only times that parents suspend the standard safety rules for their kids. While most days, kids are told to avoid talking to strangers or going to strangers' homes, all bets are off on Halloween.

Many California towns have responded to the heightened Halloween threat against children with "no candy" laws and decoration bans. Do you think such bans could withstand a constitutional challenge?

For example, Riverside County supervisors recently banned registered sex offenders from displaying Halloween decorations or handing out candy to children. Under the law, registered sex offenders may not put Halloween decorations on their homes or answer the door to trick-or-treaters from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on October 31 each year, reports the Los Angeles Times.

This year also kicks off San Jacinto's new law banning trick-or-treating and decorating at sex offenders' homes.

Orange County similarly prohibits sex offenders from participating in trick-or-treating and displaying decorations, but its law takes the ban one step further: sex offenders must post signs at their homes stating that no candy or treats are available.

California parole officers use Halloween as an added excuse to surprise registered sex offenders with random check-ins. The check-ins, known as "Operation Boo," verify that registered sex offenders comply with the parole board's Halloween rules, including a dawn-to-dusk curfew, and - you guessed it - a candy prohibition.

In San Francisco, where many registered sex offenders are homeless, transient offenders are required to report to the Northern California Service League between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Halloween. Transient offenders are also required to wear GPS tracking devices year round, reports Mission Local.

Considering the frequency with which prisoners file civil rights lawsuits in prison, we're surprised there haven't been more challenges to these Halloween laws. If challenged, we think the no candy laws would stand, but the decoration laws might be overturned.

Do you think the sex offender Halloween laws are constitutional?

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