Last year I wrote that scare tactics aren't just for kids on Halloween, and I could and for the foreseeable future probably will do some version of this blog post annually to criticize the foolish policy many police and probation departments have adopted of rounding up all the registered sex offenders in their community into custody on Halloween night to keep them from having children come to their door.
As McLennan County’s most recently convicted sex offender, the 82-year-old businessman has been ordered to gather with about 85 other convicted sex offenders at the Adult Probation Office during prime trick-or-treating hours tonight.
It’s not for a party. It’s so those being supervised on probation as sex offenders won’t have the porch light on and a welcome mat out for young ghosts, goblins and potential abuse victims.
Curtis Hand, director of McLennan County Adult Probation, says the gathering is not optional or just for those who can make it. It’s an order for those on the sex offender caseload — and those who don’t show are going to jail.
This is the third year that Hand has ordered sex offenders to be at the office at 504 N. Sixth St. from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Halloween night. Some complain, but most don’t, Hand says.
In years past, probation officers went from home to home of sex offenders on probation to make sure they didn’t have their lights on and were not answering the doors on Halloween, Hand says.
“We found that this makes more sense to us,” he says. “This is one night during the year that there is a high concentration of children on the street, and to better assure the safety of those children from this population, it just seems like it is better to have them in one spot so you know where they are.”
This is sheer foolishness. At least if you're going to do it, respect their privacy and don't issue a damn press release or contact the media.
The only Halloween abduction in US history was in Wisconsin in 1973, and the killer did not have a prior record. This is a solution looking for a problem, and finding none, hyping a non-existent one almost purely for purposes of political grandstanding. Stranger rape of children isn't the problem (93% of child sexual assault victims knew their assailant), so there's very little public safety justification for this "Round up the usual suspects" routine.
By comparison, petty juvenile crime, vandalism, underage drinking and driving, fights among kids, and all manner of graffiti and property crime skyrockets on Halloween. It'd be easy enough from analyzing previous years' Halloween reports to identify what crimes police should focus on in what parts of town. Why not focus extra resources there, instead of on an over-hyped scenario that's far less likely to ever occur?