Civil Liberties

Who's Scared of Trick-or-Treaters?

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A federal judge in St. Louis has blocked enforcement of two Halloween-related restrictions on sex offenders imposed by a new Missouri law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri challenged both restrictions as unconstitutionally vague, in violation of the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause, and U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson concluded that it had a good chance pf prevailing. One provision bans "all Halloween-related contact with children," raising the question of whether this rule applies to, say, carving a pumpkin with your own children. The other says sex offenders may leave their homes between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. only "for just cause, including but not limited to, employment or medical emergencies." The law does not specify what else counts as "just cause." Jackson's order allows enforcement of provisions requiring sex offenders to keep their outdoor lights off after 5 p.m. on Halloween and to post signs saying, "No candy or treats at this residence."

A St. Louis County cop seemed thankful for Jackson's intervention:

Detective Gary Coxen of the St. Louis County Police Department had planned to knock on doors to ensure the sexual offenders were home, but he worried they would ignore him, mistaking him for children trick-or-treating. After the ruling, he said his job would be easier; he would simply go to each house to ensure that a sign was posted and the porch lights were off.

Jackson's order is here (PDF) . I noted the annual pre-Halloween crackdown on sex offenders last week.

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  1. raising the question of whether this rule applies to, say, carving a pumpkin with your own children

    Next up: banning anyone on the sex offender list from having custody or visitation with their own kids.

  2. Can’t wait for the silliness to ensue on this one.

  3. he would simply go to each house to ensure that a sign was posted and the porch lights were off.

    How is anyone going to see the sign if the porch lights are off?

    Also, what if you live in a duplex with a shared front porch? Just sayin…

  4. What if you need the lights on to discourage burglers?

  5. What if you need the lights on to discourage burglers?

    Easy. Land mines.

  6. What if I’m out of town?

    I can’t go to an adult halloween party?

  7. [C]arving a pumpkin with your own children.

    I’ve tried carving a pumpkin with my kid, but it just doesn’t work; his nails aren’t sharp enough to puncture the rind. Last year I propped his jaws open and tried cutting with the upper inscisors that just came in, but they broke off before I could even finish the lid.

  8. The joke that is the sex offender list is the true tragedy. Some places, you get caught drunkenly urinating in public, bam, on the list. Have sex with your 17 year old girlfriend when you’re 18, bam, on the list.

    The whole thing is retarded, as if every person on that list is going to seduce and rape children just cause.

    I’ve got a better idea. Punishment for violent rape and prepubescent rape is immediate non negotiable castration, followed by the death penalty. No one else need be classified as a sex offender.

  9. Would this law require me to take off my Leon Trotsky mask before I have consensual sex with my 15 year old pinko-fag-goth boyfriend?

  10. Jackson’s order allows enforcement of provisions requiring sex offenders to keep their outdoor lights off after 5 p.m. on Halloween and to post signs saying, “No candy or treats at this residence.”

    With the ignorance of the general public as to the ridiculously low standard for getting on the sex offender list, you might as well put up a sign saying “Please lynch me, I’m a kiddie rapist.”

  11. Anyway, I’ve noted more trick-or-treating in my neighborhood here in the Bronx in recent years — and an upward trend even over those years — than we had in my childhood, when I lived less than a mile from here, born 1954.

    Contra the previous thread on this subject, I think fear of trick or treat is now greater in the suburbs than it is in the urbs.

  12. the majority of pedophilic activity occurs between family members. so your underage children should be the first people you are barred from having contact with

  13. Would this law require me to take off my Leon Trotsky mask before I have consensual sex with my 15 year old pinko-fag-goth boyfriend?

    Depends on whether the mask if vinyl or latex.

  14. I always dress up during trick-or-treating hours, and since frightening people is the major theme of Halloween, I’ve been trying to think of some way that I could create a “sex offender” costume to wear next year. Maybe start with a sack full of “Non-Threatening Boys”-type teen heartthrob magazines.

    Or, maybe by that time we’ll have started making them sew some sort of identifying patch on their clothing.

  15. The total rape rate for 2007 was 28.4 per 100,000 according to the FBI. I assume child rape is a small subset of that. For comparison, the rate for getting robbed bare-handed is 57.7 per 100,000. What will the feds do about the hords of unarmed adults taking candy from babies?

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