Georgia Government Officials Celebrate Halloween By Engaging In Pointless Hassling Of Sex Offenders
from the your-tax-dollars-being-made-stupider dept
Across the state of Georgia (and in other places around the nation), idiots in power are scoring points with the idiots in the electorate by engaging in “for the children” bullshit targeting sex offenders. The Sheriff of Butts County (not a typo) decided to plant signs in the yards of all registered sex offenders, which should ensure only pleasant things happen to parolees following the terms of their release.
As Sheriff, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of your children. This Halloween, my office has placed signs in front of every registered sex offender’s house to notify the public that it’s a house to avoid. Georgia law forbids registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween, to include decorations on their property. With the Halloween on the square not taking place this year, I fully expect the neighborhoods to be very active with children trick-or-treating. Make sure to avoid houses which are marked with the attached posted signs in front of their residents. I hope you and your children have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. It is an honor and privilege to serve as your sheriff.
(These signs are placed In accordance with Georgia Law O.C.G.A. 42-1-12-i(5) which states the Sheriff shall inform the public of the presence of sexual offenders in each community)
Sheriff Gary Long isn’t making anyone safer by doing this, no matter what his self-congratulatory post says. The law he cites doesn’t require the placement of signs in sex offenders’ yards. If it did, these signs would already be in place and there’d be no reason for Sheriff Long to brag about his pointless waste of time on Facebook.
The state already has a law in place banning sex offenders from decorating their houses, handing out candy to children, or even turning their outside lights on. All of that should be enough to deter trick-or-treaters from visiting sex offenders’ residences. The planting of signs is an unjustified additional punishment handed down for specious reasons that provides an opportunity for everyone who agrees with Long’s self-serving idiocy to hurl invective, garbage, or whatever else in on hand in the general direction of property bearing these signs.
This won’t make the kids safer. A 2009 study showed no spike in sex offender activity around Halloween.
States, municipalities, and parole departments have adopted policies banning known sex offenders from Halloween activities, based on the worry that there is unusual risk on these days. The existence of this risk has not been empirically established. National Incident-Base Reporting System crime report data from 1997 through 2005 were used to examine daily population adjusted rates from 67,045 nonfamilial sex crimes against children aged 12 years and less. Halloween rates were compared with expectations based on time, seasonality, and weekday periodicity. Rates did not differ from expectation, no increased rate on or just before Halloween was found, and Halloween incidents did not evidence unusual case characteristics. Findings were invariant across years, both prior to and after these policies became popular. These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist.
Law enforcement resources are better used ensuring children are safe by patrolling neighborhoods and increasing law enforcement presence in heavily-trafficked areas. Children are hundreds of times more likely to be hit by cars than snagged by a sex offender on Halloween (and, indeed, any day of the year). Additional officers deployed to neighborhoods might also deter something that actually happens far more often on Halloween than other holidays.
According to the National Safety Council, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. And as for keeping the general pubic safe, vandalism spikes by 24% on Halloween, making it the night with the most vandalism of the year.
Even more absurd than Sheriff Long’s plan is Grovetown, Georgia Mayor Gary E. Jones’ idea. He just going to lock the “problem” up for the night.
Paroled sex offenders won’t have the chance to encounter trick-or-treaters in Grovetown, Ga., this Halloween.
That’s because Mayor Gary E. Jones plans to round them up. Jones this week revealed his plan to keep 25 to 30 local paroled sex offenders under the watchful eyes of five law enforcement officers at city hall for three hours next Wednesday as kids go door to door for candy.
Technically, this may be legal under the state’s expansive sex offender laws. It doesn’t sound all that Constitutional, which may result in a courtroom challenge in the near future. Mayor Jones has a perfectly good reason to do this, though: a long history of zero incidents on Halloween in his town. Jones claims this is being done “across the state,” but WQAD reports “no other surrounding counties” are engaging in this technically-legal roundup.
If Jones was really concerned about safety and crime during Halloween, he would have his law enforcement out on the streets, rather than sitting guard at City Hall. And if criminals who’ve already paid their debt to society can be locked up for nebulous reasons, why isn’t Jones tossing everyone ever picked up on vandalism charges into the ad hoc lockup for the night? It seems like they might pose more of a safety issue than the sex offenders Mayor Jones believes — without a shred of evidence — would kidnap trick-or-treaters if not otherwise detained.
And all of this doesn’t even get to the problems of the sex offender registry itself and the fact it contains people who did nothing more than have sex with a 17-year-old when they were 20 or engaged in sexting with another teen. Or the fact that kids are far more likely to be abused by someone they know and trust, rather than some stranger offering Halloween candy on Halloween. All of this is willfully ignored by law-and-order types like Sheriff Long and Mayor Jones to score points with constituents who are equally as oblivious. It’s just another form of security theater — one that has a lot to say about safety, but actually does nothing to make anyone safer.