Monday, October 18, 2010

FL - Every year states continue to fear monger over non-issues, like Halloween and sex offenders!

This Florida law makes it appear that all sex offenders have harmed children, which is a lie. Many have not harmed a child at all, so making them obey this law, if they are on probation or parole, is just insane!

VA - Halloween sex-offender fear mongering questioned

Original Article


By Frank Green

Richmond - As trick-or-treaters pick out costumes and prepare for neighborhood Halloween outings, authorities are gearing up again to closely monitor sex offenders across Virginia.
- Keep in mind, this is only for those on probation and/or parole only.  And those are already monitored by probation/parole agents

The effort, however, addresses a problem that does not exist, according to a study of 67,000 sex crimes against children over a nine-year period before and after the Halloween sex-offender monitoring programs became popular across the country.

This year as in past years, the Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia State Police and local law-enforcement agencies will be monitoring 3,700 sex offenders on probation or parole in Operation Trick No Treat or Operation Porch Lights Out, depending on where in the state they live.

"The purpose of the operation is to both protect and remove a high-risk population from the community during a time when . . . children could be vulnerable. The goal is no new victims," said Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

Sex offenders in Virginia who are simply on the list of registered sex offenders and not on probation or parole are not subject to the Halloween monitoring. Each Virginia district probation and parole office may participate in one of the two Halloween monitoring operations, Traylor said.

But Elizabeth Letourneau, a researcher with the Medical University of South Carolina's Family Services Research Center in Charleston, S.C., said, "There is zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation."

Paul Stern, a deputy prosecutor in Snohomish County, Wash., agrees.

"People want to protect kids; they want to do the right thing and they make decisions based on what at first glance may make some sense. Sex offenders, costumes, kids -- what a bad combination," he said.
- So basically, based on all the evidence, and the fact that only one child in the last hundred of more years has been sexually abused on Halloween, they still ignore the facts and do it because it "sounds good," not based on facts!  And they are wasting a lot of money to keep the fear campaign going!

"Unfortunately, those kinds of policies are not always based on any analysis or scientific evidence," said Stern, who started prosecuting sex offenders who victimized children in 1985.

Stern, Letourneau and two others published a paper last year for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers called: "How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters? An Analysis of Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween."

The study looked at more than 67,000 sex crimes in 30 states against children 12 and younger from 1997 -- before many Halloween sex-offender programs began -- through 2005, well after many were under way.

"These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law-enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist," the study concluded.

Letourneau said, "There's just no increase in sex offense on that day, and in all likelihood that's because kids are out in groups or they're out with their parents and they're moving around, they're not isolated and otherwise at risk." She said a better use of police on Halloween night would be to help protect children from traffic.

"We almost called this paper 'Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year' because it was just so incredibly rare to see anything happen on that day," she said.

But there have been sex attacks against juveniles on Halloween in Virginia. Last year, two teens were attacked by the so-called East Coast Rapist in Dale City. However, because that rapist's DNA does not match the DNA of known sex offenders, it is not likely he would be in the group of offenders closely monitored in Virginia.

Traylor said, "Sex offenders under our supervision are either required to remain at home with their lights out and not answer the door for trick-or-treaters, or they are required to attend a mandatory meeting at a secure location during the evening hours when children are likely to be trick-or-treating."

To ensure compliance, probation and parole officers along with law-enforcement officers make random home visits as part of Operation Porch Lights Out. If offenders attend organized meetings as part of Operation Trick No Treat, they may be required to participate in educational sessions and drug and alcohol screenings, Traylor said.

Mary Devoy, executive director of Reform Sex Offender Laws in Virginia, said, "It's time to ask [officials], 'If you are going to spend my money then how does this really make me and my family safer?' If all you get is a long pause with no facts to back up the claim, then we serve no one. It's time to stop playing trick or treat with our lives."

Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the state police, said the troopers involved adjust their schedules in advance so they can provide coverage at no extra cost.
- At no extra cost?  Really?  What about gas, and the money involved in having police out combing the city for something that doesn't exist, and checking on ex-sex offenders?

"Additional vigilance of convicted sex offenders' whereabouts on Halloween night simply provides better security for parents and their children in Virginia's neighborhoods," she said.