Georgia Sheriff Says Registered Sex Offenders Aren't a Danger to Trick-or-Treaters, Will Humiliate Them Anyway

The sheriff's over-the-top "no trick or treat" signs might make him feel better, but they're actually harming more people than they're helping.


Candy-seeking children in one Georgia county aren't more likely to be molested today simply because it's Halloween, but that didn't stop Butts County Sheriff Gary Long from ordering his officers to put "no trick-or-treat" signs in front of the homes of each of the county's registered offenders.

Long announced his office's actions in a Saturday Facebook post. "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," he said. "Make sure to avoid houses which are marked with the attached posted signs in front of their residents."

He also attached a picture of one of the signs:

Georgia law does, in fact, require that sheriff's offices "inform the public of the presence of sex offenders in each community." In the past, Long told CBS News that his deputies would put signs on doors letting trick-or-treaters know where registered sex offenders in the county—of which there are currently 54—live. But this time around, CBS reports Long hoped to "increase visibility."

Why the change? Long cited the cancellation of an annual Halloween event where firemen and police officers handed out candy to local children in the town square. This year, Long believes children will instead go door-to-door looking for candy.

Long admitted chances are slim that any of the registered sex offenders in the county would try anything. But he'd rather be safe than sorry. "I'm not trying to humiliate 'em or anything like that. Let's face reality: We have a greater chance of children getting run over by a car [on Halloween] than being a victim of sexual assault by a repeat offender," he told CBS. "But at the end of the day if, in fact, we had a child that fell victim to a sexual assault, especially by a convicted sex offender, I don't think I could sleep at night."

Some sex offenders have emailed Long to tell him the signs are an "embarrassment," he said. That doesn't phase him. "I don't care if they do like it or if they don't like it," he told CBS. "My job us to ensure the safety of the children and the community and that's what I'm going to do."

Long's motives aren't bad, but his actions are an unnecessary indignity for people who've already served their punishment. For one thing, sex offenders are less likely than other criminals to commit the same crime again. As Reason's C.J. Ciaramella pointed out last week:

Study after study has found that same-crime recidivism rates for sex offenders hover between 3 and 4 percent, lower than other types of crime and nowhere near the 80 percent rate once falsely cited by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, for instance.

Moreover, it's not as though Halloween presents additional risk to children. In a piece for Reason earlier this month, Lenore Skenazy discussed the results of a study that looked into 67,000 cases of child molestation. The study found no increase in sex crimes on Halloween.

That hasn't stopped the hysteria. Whether it's the small-town Georgia mayor who wanted to confine sex offenders to city hall on Halloween, or Long's ridiculous signs, people are overly fearful of sex offenders targeting children on this one specific day of the year, regardless of whether the offense that landed them on the registry involved children, adults, or adolescents.

Sex offenders themselves aren't the only ones negatively affected. One Butts County woman whose husband is on the registry told WXIA that "threats have been made" thanks to the sign in her yard. "That poster that is causing that hysteria is posted at my property and I have not done anything wrong," the unidentified woman said.

Plus, she claimed her husband is only on the registry due to a relationship he had with a woman when he was 20 and she was 16. "There's so many levels," she said. "There's such a gray area…but yet they happen to be treated all the same."

She's right. Having your name on the sex offender doesn't equate to be being a child molester. And though some on the registry have sexually abused children, they're probably not going to target random kids on Halloween.

Long's signs might make him feel better, but they're actually harming more people than they're helping.

NEXT: Calvin Bryant Was Serving a Draconian Mandatory Minimum Sentence. Now He's Free

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  1. Butts county. LOL

    1. I came here to say this too.

    1. In Butts county, the sheriff is an ass.

      1. Everyone has an asshole. Without them, no one would be able to give a shit. 🙂

  2. I certainly hope no commenters sign on here just so they can make fun of the county’s name. That would be unfortunate.

    1. Day late, dollar short…

  3. “My job us to ensure the safety of the children and the community and that’s what I’m going to do.”

    His job, like all politicians, is to get re-elected.

  4. Butts County Sheriff Gary Long is a character in a porno, not a real person.

  5. Behold the brilliance of Don Lemon

    “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men.”


    1. Yeah, you have to wonder why people like you think that white men, not only the biggest terror threat, are also the only group of people you think should be able to act like whiny little bitches about how society treats them.

      1. You are a white man you moron. Just because you are pervert doesn’t change that

        1. But unlike you I don’t whine about how the mean black man on the TV hurt my feelings about it.

          1. No you just act like a little bit h and demand everyone bake you cakes and the government puts it boot on the face of anyone who does something you don’t like.

            And no one is whining here but you. Everyone else is laughing at Lemon and you

            1. Are you still prancing about in unconvincing libertarian drag, John, or have you mustered enough character to admit you’re an authoritarian, retrograde right-winger?

              Be man enough to be yourself.

          2. What about white women who talk about blackface, Tony? What do you think about them?

            1. What are they saying about it?

      2. No, it isn’t that white men think they are the only group that can whine, its that we don’t like being told we can’t whine because we’re white.

        Everyone (everyone!) should be able to act like whiny little bitches about how society treats them.

        1. But whine is all you do. It’s almost 100% of your politics. You have all the free speech in the world to be whiny little bitches about how some kid on YouTube triggered you. You just want nobody to make fun of you about it. The word “projection” is overused, but my god. How about add something to your political platform that’s not some form of white racial grievance?

          1. Yeah Tony it is everyone else who is angry not you.

          2. But whine is all you do. It’s almost 100% of your politics.
            Ironically this comment thread is about Don Lemon and you just described him accurately. That’s why they call it projection.

            1. He, possibly inartfully, stated the fact that most terrorism in this country is committed by white men. And the John butthurt could be heard for miles.

              1. Let me unpack this for you.

                He singled out white men in the same sentence where he said to stop demonizing people. That’s what makes it so funny. The only people who have trouble getting this are Marxists like yourself who see no moral problem with “punching up”. But most people don’t believe in zero-sum conflict theory, even many people who have been through college like me. It’s a really bad tactic for winning over the unindoctrinated. Do you understand now? Or are you just going to keep lashing out against the white devil?

                1. I said inartfully. He meant stop demonizing minorities.

    2. Don and his grievance cult are driving more people into the arms of Trump than any right wing operative there is. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.

      If anyone should be complaining about him, it should be democrats. I wonder when the self awareness will kick in. Maybe a few more electoral nut punches.

      1. True but Democrats are all Tony level stupid

      2. For fuck’s sake, FOX News is 24/7 white grievance. How do you not see that? How do you cherry pick this goofball and ignore all the fucking bitching coming from the other direction–literally the only thing they ever talk about, except when they’re talking about how bad Christians have it in America. It’s utterly astonishing.

        And people are not flocking to Trump. I admit this is taking longer than I predicted, but eventually you idiots will believe so many lies that you’ll stop being able to win elections even when you cheat.

        1. How is that Russia investigation going Tony? Trump’s approval among blacks is up to 36%. He is going to be President for 8 years.

          1. As I was saying. Stop being a dumb bitch, John. That was free. I’m not gonna correct any more of the lies you fill your head with from Breitbart or what the fuck ever. I prefer you overconfident.

        2. For fuck’s sake, FOX News is 24/7 white grievance. How do you not see that?
          Because I don’t watch Fox news. It’s weird that you assume everyone outside of your cult does.

          How do you cherry pick this goofball and ignore all the fucking bitching coming from the other direction
          I’m aware of it, but your sense of proportionality is out of touch with reality. Maybe you should lay off the MSNBC and diversify your news intake so your hot takes can influence more than just laughter and pity.

          And people are not flocking to Trump.
          You’re right, it’s more like they’re just flocking away from democrats and landing wherever the wind blows them.

          1. My favorite thing is when one of you people who never ever watch FOX News–never even heard of it!–reminds me of how high FOX News’s ratings are.

            Let it stand in for the right-wing echo chamber. It makes you stupid. Just stop consuming it. Your blood pressure will thank you along with your extended family.

            1. one of you people…reminds me of how high FOX News’s ratings are.
              Now you’re attributing someone else’s comments to me? Tony, I’m worried about you. Collectivist logic rots your brain.

              I guess Reason is part of the right-wing echo chamber, and you should stop consuming it too.

      3. Don and his grievance cult are driving more people into the arms of Trump than any right wing operative there is.

        Nah, the bigots have always been among us. They’ve hated the Irish, gays, Jews, blacks, women, agnostics, Catholics, Asians, Hispanics, atheists, Italians, and others.

        They don’t win in America, though, and this current batch of bigots is nothing special, its reliance on the insights, charms, and character of Donald J. Trump notwithstanding. He can lather them up, but they’ve never accomplished much or stuck with much of anything, and I doubt they will start now.

    3. Don Lemon wakes up to a walking Ken

    4. It is impressive when one contradicts oneself in the same sentence.

  6. Long’s motives aren’t bad

    Yeah, no.

  7. >>Having your name on the sex offender doesn’t equate to be being a child molester.

    the sign thing is stupid but if necessary maybe Butts County Sheriff Ass could put them up @the child molesters’ only?

  8. If that happened to me, I would throw the sign away

    1. I would put it in the sheriff’s front yard.

  9. The sherrif is a fucking idiot. It’s embarrassing for Alabama. They will shut his shit show down after this episode.

  10. Or maybe we could stop allowing vandalism and panhandling on a chosen night each year?
    How is ‘trick or treating’ (extortion by definition) legal, and feeding the homeless other nights illegal?

    “get off my lawn”

  11. They might be foolish enough to have a law on the books that allows the sheriff to inform people any way he pleases, but I doubt it says you can’t remove the stupid sign.

  12. Butts County, Georgia.

    Anyone living there has suffered enough. Want to help the children of Butts County, Georgia? Encourage them to leave on the day of high school graduation, for a strong campus or a modern, successful community, and never return.

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