Tricks-Not-Treats: Halloween Predator Panic Laws
Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
Written 16 Oct. 2008, Revised 30 Oct. 2019

PLEASE NOTE: Halloween laws have not changed much since this article was first written, and there have not been
many new developments to discuss. Please see above for the most current laws. Any new legal developments will be
noted below.  

INTRODUCTION

I remember coming home from “trick-or-treating” as a child and turning over my bag of candy to my mother for
inspection. After all, one of our neighbors could have slipped rat poison in our Tootsie Rolls or razor blades in our
apples. Aside from certain choice pieces missing as a result of mom’s ingestion... er, “inspection” process, my mother
never found any razor blades or rat poison in our Halloween Candy. Despite virtually no confirmed cases of Halloween
poisonings, the myth has remained a constant in our culture [1].

Starting about the mid-2000s, a new Halloween myth had emerged – the myth that Halloween is, as controversial victim
industry advocate Wendy Murphy once proclaimed, "Like Christmas for Sex Offenders." But, as countered by Lenore
Skenazy in an article by Reason.com, "That's a catchy phrase, but she never explains exactly what she means. Do sex
offenders get gifts on Halloween? Gifts of children? 'They know they'll have lots of access to kids and that they can't get
in trouble even though they're required to stay away from children,' Murphy says. That is simply not true. Murphy is
repeating an urban myth that sex offenders snatch trick or treaters. No evidence of such a phenomenon exists. That is
simply not true. Murphy is repeating an urban myth that sex offenders snatch trick or treaters. No evidence of such a
phenomenon exists." [2] Similar to the poisoning myth, the Halloween sexual predator myth involves panic over a
virtually non-existent threat and the typical corresponding response to the perceived threat.

THE PROLIFERATION OF HALLOWEEN RESTRICTIONS FOR REGISTERED PERSONS

While there may have unwritten rules that at the least, registrants under supervision could not participate in certain
activities, 2005 was the year Halloween Restrictions started popping up in media reports across the US. This is not
surprising, as it coincided with the February 2005 high-profile murder of Jessica Lunsford in Florida. (Interestingly,
Florida did not pass any Halloween restriction laws until 2010.)

The NY Times reported Virginia began "Operation Trick No Treat" in 2002, a law requiring  "high-risk" registrants to
report to their parole offices between 4:30 and 8 p.m. on Halloween, where many undergo treatment, making Virginia's
policy possibly the first Halloween restriction. By 2005, a half dozen states had some form of restriction. [3]

Of the five existing state statutes that specifically prohibit registered persons from participating in Halloween activities,
the Illinois Statutes are the oldest. In a Press Release dated July 10, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich boasted of passing
a long list of strict laws against registered persons, stating, "There’s nothing more vile than sex offenders. We have to
do everything in our power to keep them away from our children and our communities. That’s why I’m signing tough new
laws that protect us from sex offenders, including lifetime supervision for sex offenders and making sure that sex
offenders are kept away from children and the elderly." Included in this long list of legislation was House Bill 121,
sponsored by Rep. Bill Mitchell (R – Forsyth) and Sen. Kirk W. Dillard (R - Westmont), which "provides that as a
condition of probation, conditional discharge, parole, or mandatory supervised release, a sex offender may not
participate in a holiday event involving children under 18 years of age, such as handing out candy on Halloween,
dressing as Santa Claus during the Christmas season, or wearing an Easter Bunny costume around Easter." [4] Illinois
would extend this provision to all registrants convicted of offenses involving anyone under the age of 18 in 2013 [5], so
presumably, this includes "Romeo and Juliet" Offenses.

By 2008, CNN reported a number of states (Incl. CA, MD, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WI) are passing laws restricting sex
offender activities during Halloween. A typical Halloween law aimed at sex offenders includes some or all of the following
restrictions (below are the TN laws):

  • Do not answer the door to trick-or-treaters
  • No passing out of candy to children
  • No holiday decorations on homes
  • No visits to haunted houses, corn mazes, hay rides or other seasonal activities
  • Do not attend any party where children are gathered
  • No costumes
  • No trick-or-treating [6]

Maryland had taken this law a step further, requiring Former Sex Offenders to place signs on their doors saying “No
Candy at This Residence [7].” Louisiana passed a law barring Former Sex Offenders from wearing masks at carnivals
and Halloween [8]. Missouri forces Former Sex Offenders to stay indoors, turn off all their lights, and have no contact
with children [9]. While some of these restrictions are limited to those on supervision (probation/ parole), in some areas,
like Missouri and in Tulare County, CA [10], this law applies to all registrants regardless of status, with compliance
checks sometime accompanying the no participation rules.

The trend to pass Halloween restrictions has slowed since the 2000s; As of 2019, five states (AR, FL, IL, LA, MO) have
official "sex offender" Halloween restrictions written in that state's legal statutes. Of these five states, only Louisiana and
Missouri apply the restrictions to all registered persons. Arkansas and Illinois applies restrictions to both those on
supervised release, parolees/ probationers, and those convicted of sexual offenses involving anyone under age 18.
Florida’s state law applies only to those on probation or parole. In addition, 14 states (CA, CO, GA, ID, IN, MD, NV, NY,
OH, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI) have policies through state-level criminal justice agencies to restrict activities of registrants "on
paper" (probation, parole, or supervised release) and/ or conduct compliance check operations around Halloween. In
addition, many municipalities or counties may be allowed to place additional restrictions on registered persons,
regardless of whether or not they are on supervision. In 2019, West Virginia failed to pass a statewide Halloween
restriction, while Arkansas passed new restrictions for those classified as Tier 3 or Tier 4, making Arkansas the fifth
state to place such restrictions within their official state statutes.

These laws beg the question, “Are these laws effective or even necessary?” Certainly there are a lot of concerns with
the law.

Halloweenitis

The common mantra of proponents of sex offender laws is “it will make things safer/ protect children.” However, a simple
Yahoo or Google search on “Kids molested by sex offenders during Halloween” will turn up no cases of such a case
happening, an experiment emulated by others with similar results [11]. (And this fact has not changed since 2008)  A
Live Science article describes the irrational Halloween Predator Panic perfectly:

“While children's safety is important, the concern far outweighs the real danger. There is no reason to think that sex
offenders pose any more of a threat to children on Halloween than at any other time. In fact, there has not been a single
case of any child being molested by a convicted sex offender while trick-or-treating.

These measures are popular and well-intentioned—but ultimately ineffective—publicity stunts offered by police and
politicians to placate parents. They provide a false sense of security, since there is no evidence that the policies actually
make children any safer. Any opportunistic sexual predators who would attack children will simply wait until the next day.

Ironically, a group of children dressed in costume at a sex offender's doorway are probably safer than at many other
places they could be, including their own homes. This is because, contrary to popular belief, most released sex
offenders do not re-offend, and because most attacks on children occur in their own home by someone they know.

Furthermore, the simple logistics of trick-or-treating make an assault very unlikely. A sex offender would have great
difficultly molesting a child who is in costume, outside his or her front door, and in front of other people and witnesses.

Of course, the knowledge that such an attack has never happened and is very unlikely to ever occur won't calm the
hysterical concer
n [12].”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel offered the only recorded incident of any child raped and killed while out trick-or-
treating. In 1973, a nine-year-old named Lisa French, who was killed by Gerald Turner; the media dubbed him the
“Halloween Killer.” Because of Turner, Wisconsin residents hold trick-or-treating during daytime hours [13]. Today,
proponnts for the Halloween restriction laws repeat this single case to justify this bad piece of legislation. However, the
f/k/a Harvard Law Blog found two interesting things regarding the Turner case:

  1. The 9 year old girl was trick-or-treating alone and went to the house of a stranger, and
  2. Turner had no prior criminal record, so if such a law existed in 1973, the Halloween sex offender laws would not
    have applied to Turner. Thus, to date there is STILL no recorded incident of a child molested or killed by a
    convicted sex offender on Halloween. [14]

The Predator Panic surrounding Halloween and sex offenders can be called “Halloweenitis.” Below is the eAdvocate
definition of Halloweenitis:

"Halloweenitis is a coined term used to describe a mental abnormality often occurring in public servants and politically
aspiring persons who can pass this psychological disorder onto others, generally occurring around holidays and
elections. The disease is characterized by abnormal delusional visions of perceived horrific events creating an aura of
public fear; these doomsayers get their rewards by painting a picture of "the sky is falling" and alienating the public.
Significant harm is caused by people so afflicted because the objects of their obsession are persons which society
already looks down on (including their family members), and the collateral harm caused society is truly a tragedy.
Halloweenitis is a subset of offenderitis, and both are incurable social diseases because these people refuse to face
reality, or facts and statistics which prove them wrong, they discount these facts and statistics because in their minds
they only see horrific events in everyday life circumstances Those afflicted with Halloweenitis, fear based, focus on
denial of civil rights of other persons under the pretext of public safety [15].”

In short, the laws are based far more on fear than in fact. There is only ONE documented case of a rape-murder
occurring on Halloween, back in 1973, committed by someone with NO prior record. Meanwhile, there have been more
documented cases of foreign objects in Halloween candy. Thus, the laws are based strictly on Predator Panic rather
than truth. This fact has not stopped news media outlets from citing the 1973 murder of Lisa French to scare trick-or-
treaters and to justify the advertorials for sites like Patch.com and the state public registries.

Litigation Against Sex Offender Halloween Laws

Amazingly, there have been few challenges to Halloween restrictions thus far.

State of Missouri v. Charles A. Raynor, SC90164 (Jan. 12, 2010)

In 2008, A group of Former Offenders filed suit against Missouri’s Halloween laws for vagueness (including whether they
are allowed to dress their own children up in costumes), ex post facto violations, fails to provide guidelines to prevent
arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement, and makes offenders targets for vigilantism and pranks [16].

Personally, this case reeks of the segregation days of the civil rights era. Halloween laws, coupled with residency
restrictions, reintroduce the segregation concept into our society. The trend is becoming painfully obvious as comments
are added to the aforementioned Washington Times article:

“This is absolutely despicable. What's next, a Red "A" for adulterers, the Star of David to label Jews, Crosses for
Christians? How about some kind of label for those who hate animals, those who don't recycle, or don't limit their families
to two children?”

“These laws have good intentions, but are not what Americans are supposed to embrace. Soon everyone who's had a
DWI will have a bumper sticker that says "my party is more important than your life," every divorcee will have a sign that
says "Unwilling to commit," etc., etc. until everyone is properly labeled for every mistake they've ever made in their life.
Then maybe we could establish towns for each category, so the good people don't have to be subjected to the evils of
the lesser ones around them. Then we will all be safe and happy, right? No, I didn't think so!” [17]

The facts of the Missouri case:

Charles Raynor is a registered sex offender in Audrain County pursuant to section 589.400(7) and 42 U.S.C. section
16913 due to a 1990 conviction in the state of Washington for indecent liberties with a child younger than 14 years old.
Missouri's legislature enacted section 589.426,7 effective in August 2008, imposing certain restrictions on registered sex
offenders' conduct on Halloween night. On Halloween, October 31, 2008, Mexico public safety officers checked
registered sex offenders' residences for compliance with section 589.426. When an officer arrived at Raynor's
registered address, the officer observed a woman passing out candy to children. She informed the officer that Raynor
was inside the house, but that they both believed he was in compliance with the statute because he was not handing out
candy. No sign was posted at the residence stating "No candy or treats at this address." Raynor was charged with a
class A misdemeanor for failure to comply with section 589.426.

Raynor argued the restriction violated ex post facto/ retroactive clause of Missouri law. The trial court agreed, ruling in
Raynor's favor. Ultimately the state appealed the case went to the Missouri Supreme Court (
State of Missouri v Raynor).
The Missouri Supreme Court also found the law violated the state's ex post facto (retroactivity) clause and ruled in
Raynor's favor:

The new obligations and duties imposed on F.R. and Raynor are solely the result of their past criminal acts, and the
failure to perform these new duties and obligations carries a criminal penalty. The obligations and duties, imposed after
the fact of their criminal convictions and based solely on those prior convictions, violate F.R.'s and Raynor's rights under
article I, section 13... As applied to Raynor, the Halloween requirements of section 589.426 are unconstitutional. The
judgment of the trial court is affirmed [18].

Reed et al v. Long et al. Case 5:19-cv-00385-MTT (M. Dist. GA 2019)

A case filed September 2019 challenges the Butts Co. GA Sheriff's Office practice of entering private property to place
signs proclaiming the petitioners were registered persons and warning others No Candy will be at this address.

Petitioners seek declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§1983 and 1988, the First,
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and O.C.G.A. §51-9-1 arising from Respondent’s
actions.

On 29 October 2019, the US Middle District GA court passed a ruling in favor of the registrants. The ruling stated the
following:

"The question the Court must answer is not whether Sheriff Long’s plan is wise or moral, or whether it makes penological
sense. Rather, the question is whether Sheriff Long’s plan runs afoul of the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution. It does..."

"Sheriff Long acknowledged that since he became sheriff in 2013, he has never had any problem with registrants having
unauthorized contact with minors, or, for that matter, any problems at all with registrants living in Butts County. However,
as he testified, and as the Facebook page of his reelection campaign states, the local chamber of commerce had
canceled its annual community Halloween event in 2018.3 Because that raised the possibility that more minors would be
trick-or-treating, Deputy Riley asked if the Sheriff’s Office could put warning signs in front of registrants’ homes..."

"The Defendants argue that they are appropriately exercising their authority under O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12(i)(5) when they
place signs in front of registrants’ homes...The statute does not require or authorize sheriffs to post signs in front of sex
offenders’ homes, nor does it require sex offenders themselves to allow such signs. (Footnote: Title 42, Chapter 1,
Article 2 also does not forbid sex offenders from participating in Halloween festivities, such as trick-or-treating. See O.C.
G.A. §§ 42-1-15, 42-1-16, 42-1-17.) See generally O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12. Nor does the statute authorize a sheriff to place
a sign in front of a residence informing the public that the residence is unsafe..."

"Defendants offer no evidence or authority to support the conclusion that Sheriff Long, either as the Sheriff or as a
private citizen, has the right to place signs on rights-of-way in front of private residences. In fact, Georgia law prohibits
private citizens from placing signs in public rightsof-way. O.C.G.A. § 32-6-51 prohibits signs in rights-of-way except as
authorized by statute, local ordinance, or as required for the Georgia Department of Transportation to carry out its
duties..."

"Further, the Defendants’ short, conclusory statement that the First Amendment protects their speech on public rights-of-
way is perplexing in light of Sheriff Long’s contention that it is illegal for the Plaintiffs to post objecting signs. The
Defendants’ First Amendment argument, if correct,6 would apply equally to the Plaintiffs. In fact, the Plaintiffs, because
their residences abut the rights-of-way, have rights in the rights-ofway superior to those of the general public. See
Seaboard Air Line Ry. Co. v. Greenfield, 160 Ga. 407, 407, 128 S.E. 430, 435 (1925)..."

"Defendants plan to compel the Plaintiffs to promote Sheriff Long’s speech. These facts are sufficient to demonstrate
that the Plaintiffs are substantially likely to show that the Defendants will burden the Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights..."

"To justify the burden on the Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights, the Defendants must show (1) the compelled speech and
their restrictions promote a compelling government interest and (2) only the least restrictive means to further that
interest were used...It is difficult to see, however, how that interest was the true motivation for the placement of the
signs. As discussed, none of the registrants were targeted because of any particular or specific information that they
posed a risk to children, other than the mere fact that they were registrants...Defendants offer little, if anything, to
support their argument that their accusatory signs are the least restrictive means furthering that interest... Sheriff Long
himself talked about less restrictive means he has used in the past to enhance child safety on Halloween. These means
have not been shown to be ineffective. On the contrary, the absence of evidence of criminal activity by registrants
suggests that less restrictive means have been entirely effective."

"Neither the Court nor anyone else would disagree that children’s safety on Halloween is in the public interest. But,
again, the Defendants have provided no evidence showing that the Plaintiffs have posed or will pose any threat to
children trickor-treating on Halloween... On the other hand, the public interest always is served when citizens’
constitutional rights are protected, including sex offenders’. “Sex offenders are not second-class citizens. The
Constitution protects their liberty and dignity just as it protects everyone else’s.”

It must be noted that this decision is not a blanket injunction but it could be used by any other Butts County GA
registrant in future suits.

Are Halloween Laws even necessary?

There has been a lack of REAL Halloween danger stories in the media over the years. (There have been plenty of
manufactured fears over Halloween and registered persons, such as Patch.com's annual posting of "Sex Offender
Safety Maps" or scary news stories. This has led to media frenzy surrounding innocuous events like the Colorado-based
annual streaking event, the "Boulder Pumpkin Run:"

"Now that the general election's over, let's get on to more important matters: Justice for the Pumpkin 12. Recent
University of Colorado graduate Eric Rasmussen, 23, is among the 12 runners ticketed Halloween night for indecent
exposure after running naked with a wobbly orange squash on their heads along the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. If
convicted, he and 11 others could be required to register as sex offenders. Like many of the Pumpkin 12, he is finding a
lawyer... He and nine others go to Boulder County Court on Dec. 17; two others will appear Jan. 12... In Boulder, the
10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run is a hot issue. The core question: Should these 12 face punishment?
" [19]

The runners, known as the "Pumpkin 12" (the dirty pumpkin dozen?) were allowed to plea to lesser charges to avoid
registration as sex offenders [20]. Wow, our children are so much safer now that we stopped those dangerous pumpkin
runners, right? (It seems the last Naked Pumpkin Run was held in 2010, so it seems those who disliked this event got
their wish to shut it down.)

A study released by Mark Chaffin, Jill Levenson, Elizabeth Letourneau and Paul Stern in 2009 examined whether fears
of increased sexual abuse around Halloween justified the surge in Halloween laws. The researchers failed to find any
link between sexual abusive activity and Halloween:

"This study found no significant increase in risk for nonfamilial child sexual abuse on or just prior to Halloween. Although
sex offenders may use seemingly innocent opportunities to engage children and sexually abuse and therefore might be
hypothesized to use trick-or-treat for ulterior purposes, this logic does not appear to translate into any actual unusual
rate of sex offenses on Halloween. The absence of a Halloween effect remained constant over the 9-year period,
beginning well before the current interest in Halloween sex offender policies and extending to recent years. Any
Halloween policies that have been adopted by reporting jurisdictions during that period appear not to have affected the
overall sex offense rate.

Halloween was also typical in terms of victim and offender characteristics, the types of child sex offenses reported, and
the categories of victim–offender relationships involved. As with all other days of the year, young children are sexually
victimized on Halloween. We do not suggest that there is no risk on Halloween or that anecdotal accounts of Halloween
molestations should be dismissed. Nor do we suggest that parents should abandon caution and reasonable supervision
of their children. But there does not appear to be need for alarm concerning sexual abuse on these particular days. In
short, Halloween appears to be just another autumn day where rates of sex crimes against children are concerned. If
anything, increased vigilance concerning risk should be directed to the summer months in general, where regular
seasonal increases in rates are readily seen...

In this case, worries and good intentions might have inspired advocates and lawmakers to propose legislation that
combats a nonexistent problem. The findings suggest that Halloween policies may in fact be targeting a new urban myth
similar to past myths warning of tainted treats. The results are consistent with observations offered by law enforcement
officials who do not describe any epidemic of trick-or-treaters being assaulted by known sex offenders and who have
observed no unusual rate of child sexual assault events on Hallowee
n [21]."

So if there is no increased sex crimes, could a Halloween law be credited for contributing to a non-event? The Frederick
County Sheriff's Office (Maryland) certainly believes the law was beneficial:

Teams of police officers and agents with the state Division of Parole and Probation stopped by 50 residences Halloween
night to ensure that area sex offenders weren't interacting with children collecting candy. They liked what they found --
47 of the offenders had "no candy" signs posted. As instructed, they weren't opening their doors. Authorities are
following up with the three others they couldn't locate Oct. 31. Those three could face sanctions, but that hasn't been
determined, said George V. Kirk, field supervisor of the Frederick field office of the Division of Parole and Probation.
Some might have been working; agents are checking the situations out...

"It makes me happy that I had no issues whatsoever," Robinson said of their five stops. "I made it very clear what would
be happening Halloween night. I reminded them we would be stopping by." The night before Halloween, teams made
preliminary visits to 57 homes. Those Robinson visited were extremely receptive. "I think they care very much about
what members of society think," she said. "They want to be better citizens and do what they need to be doing to follow
the law."

Rounding out the effort were Cpl. Greg Stocksdale and Detective Gene Alston from the Frederick Police Department,
and Detectives Michael Davies and Chris Smith from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office. Brandy Shafer of the sheriff's
office and Krissie Smith-Alvey of parole and probation provided organizational assistance. Kirk found the initiative
beneficial to the community. Having five additional police vehicles patrolling the streets is a good thing. "Even if we can
prevent one person from being victimized, the operation is worth it," Kirk said. [22]

The prevention argument is anecdotal at best, as the type of crime that the law is trying to prevent is virtually non-
existent. There is, however, a major concern in areas where the laws are in place. While the following comment seems
anecdotal, there are real concerns of vigilantism as a result of being confused as a sex offender:

"And that pisses me off. I’ve been turning out my porch light and pretending I’m not home for years. And I’m no sex
offender, registered or otherwise. So now my problem is what do I do this year? If I turn out the lights, and don’t answer
the door, is that the same thing as advertising “sex offender here!!!!”?

One can’t ignore the damn holiday without possibly getting accused of being an offender. For years I’ve safely ignored
the holiday. Now, what will the neighbors think? Will they assume that the light is off because a sex offender lives here?
Or will they just think an old grump who doesn’t care for being annoyed on Halloween is here? I don’t mind the old grump
reputation -- I’ve earned it. But damn, that sex offender thing upsets me." [23]

Conclusion

Halloween laws aimed at sex offenders are perhaps the most blatant of excesses in feel-good legislation. There is no
rational basis to pass these laws except to instill fear in the lives of constituents and garner votes. There has never
been a documented case of a convicted sex offender molesting or killing a child on Halloween. Furthermore, the laws
merely reinforce the segregationist movement and make former offenders who have served their time targets of more
harassment and vigilante violence. This 2007 OpEd on Halloweenitis says it best:

“With Halloween now two weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about Halloween safety. OK, that’s an understatement: if
the local news programs are to be believed it’ time to start panicking. Poisoned Pixie Stix, needles-stuck Snickers, and
razor-wielding Raisinets lurk behind every Jack-o-lantern-guarded door. Evil ne’er-do-wells lurk ready to pluck your
children off the streets and do unspeakable things to them. The dead walk the earth and seek to steal the the souls of
the unwary.

I mock, but only because these myths of Halloween are so eminently mockable. As it happens, Halloween has generated
a host of safety myths, turning a once wholesome celebration of zombies, vampires, and other dead, undead, and half-
dead things into something rather more sinister. Let’s examine some of these myths...

There’s child molesters roaming free in my neighborhood! You might have looked at one of the scare-sites (appropriate
for Halloween, I suppose) that show you how many registered sex offenders live within spitting distance of your house,
maybe even mapped their addresses. What you might not have known is how someone gets to be on the sex offenders
registry. Many are folks who slept with their 15-year old girlfriends or boyfriends when they were 16 — or even when
they were 14 (some states prosecute underage sex regardless of the age of the participants). Most, though, are in fact
guilty of molesting children — almost always their own (or closely related). There are very, very few cases (less than
5%) of children being accosted by strangers — the number of cases over the last decade is in the hundreds, out of
many thousands of child abuse cases…

The reality is that your children are fairly safe from victimization by your neighbors. Statistically speaking, you and your
family are the greatest threat your children face — far, far more dangerous than any stranger. While it makes good
sense to teach your children to be aware of themselves and their surroundings in the company of strangers, the
feverish panic that breaks out every year in the weeks before Halloween is way out of proportion to the actual threat
posed to your children…

So where does the panic come from? At least part of it has to be pinned on local news organizations and their addiction
to the scare story as a way to drive ratings… But the more important story lies in the anxieties we as a society have
fostered over the last several decades…

And along comes Halloween, and what do we do? We allow our children to go door to door among those strangers and
beg for candy. In anthropological terms, feeding someone and eating together are powerful markers of intimacy and
demonstrations of solidarity — but we aren’t intimate with our neighbors and there is no sense of solidarity. So we worry.
And one way we express those worries is by telling each other urban legends about the dangers of strangers with
candy, especially on Halloween. This may also be a defensive strategy, allowing us to ignore the fact that the most real
source of danger to our children is their own family.

So don’t panic. Take reasonable safety precautions — make sure your kids are visible in the dark, have them carry
flashlights, teach them traffic safety principles, supervise young trick-or-treaters, and don’t let Halloween pranks get out
of hand. Don’t let these perfectly normal anxieties develop into irrational fears that end up polluting Halloween for
yourself and your children [24].”

Resources

  1. Halloween Poisonings.” Snopes.com. Accessed on 16 Oct. 2011 at http//www.snopes.
    com/horrors/poison/halloween.asp.
  2. Lenore Skenazy, "Fearmongering Article Falsely Claims 'Halloween Is Christmas for Sex Offenders'". Reason.com,
    Oct. 9, 2018. Accessed 28 Oct. 2019 at https://reason.com/2018/10/09/halloween-sex-offenders-boston-safe/
  3. Anahad O'Connor, "Sex Offenders See New Limits for Halloween." New York Times, 26 Oct. 2005. Accessed 16
    Oct. 2011 at https://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/nyregion/sex-offenders-see-new-limits-for-halloween.html
  4. "GOVERNOR SIGNS LAW REQUIRING LIFETIME SUPERVISION FOR MOST DANGEROUS SEX OFFENDERS."
    Press Release. Office of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojavich, 10 July 2005. http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/press05/7.
    10.05.htm, Retrieved Oct. 28, 2019
  5. Don O'Brien, "New Illinois law forbids child sex offenders from Halloween activities." The Herald-Whig, 28 Oct.
    2013. Accessed 28 Oct. 2019 at https://www.whig.com/story/23805320/new-illinois-law-forbids-child-sex-offenders-
    from-halloween-activities
  6. “Sex Offenders Locked Down, in the dark for Halloween.” CNN, 31 Oct. 2007. Accessed 16 Oct. 2011 at http:
    //edition.cnn.com/2007/US/10/31/halloween.offenders/
  7. Tom LoBianco, “Pumpkin symbol marks sex offenders’ homes.” Washington Times, 15 Oct. 2008. Accessed 16
    Oct. 2011 at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/15/pumpkin-marks-sex-offenders-homes/
  8. AP, “Nearly 500 Louisiana laws take effect today.” The Daily Advertiser, 15 Aug. 2008. Accessed 15 Oct. 2008 at  
    http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080815/NEWS01/808150328/1002
  9. Michelle Sherwood, “New Law Targets Sex Offenders on Halloween.” KSPR News, 9 Oct 2008. Accessed 15 Oct.
    2008 at http://www.kspr.com/news/local/30660589.html?corder=reverse
  10. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/37087288@N06/5079146239/ Accessed 16 Oct. 2011.
  11. Scare tactics not just for kids on Halloween.” Grits For Breakfast, 31 Oct. 2006. Accessed 15 Oct. 2008 at http:
    //gritsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2006/10/scare-tactics-not-just-for-kids-on.html
  12. Benjamin Radford, Halloween Hysteria: Phantom Fears and Sex Offenders.” Live Science.com, 30 Oct. 2007.
    Accessed 15 Oct. 2008 at http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/071030-halloween-hysteria.html
  13. John Diedrich, No trick-or-treat for state’s sex offenders.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 27 Oct. 2005. Accessed 15
    Oct. 2008 at http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=366284&format=print
  14. David Giacolone, Halloween tricks: pols vs. sex offenders.” f/k/a, 30 Oct. 2005. Retrieved 15 Oct. 2008 at http:
    //blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/2005/10/30/halloween-tricks-pols-vs-sex-offenders/
  15. The Confusing Words and Phrases in the realm of sex offenders: with many being used in a libelous or
    slanderous manner! News and Noteworthy (E-Advocate), 2007, http://www.geocities.com/eoped/def-001.
    html#hal, Retrieved Oct. 15, 2008. Archived at http://www.oocities.org/eoped/def-001.html#hal
  16. Robert Patrick, Sex offenders challenge law banning them from Halloween activities.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8
    Oct. 2008. Retrieved 15 Oct. 2008 at http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.
    nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/E930958E0A4A95EE862574DC0013B442?OpenDocument
  17. Supra., LoBianco, "Pumpkin Mark"
  18. State of Missouri v. Charles A. Raynor, SC90164 (Jan. 12, 2010)
  19. Julie Poppen, "Sex charge worries streaker in Boulder Pumpkin Run." Rocky Mountain News, 7 Nov. 2008.
    Accessed 16 Oct. 2011 at http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/nov/07/sex-charge-worries-streaker/
  20. Stephanie Simon, "Boulder's Naked Halloween Streak May Be Coming to an End." Wall Street Journal, 31 Oct.
    2009. Accessed 16 Oct. 2011 at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125693458626119361.html
  21. Mark Chaffin, Jill Levenson, Elizabeth Letourneau and Paul Stern. "How safe are trick-or-treaters? An analysis on
    sex crime rates on Halloween." Sex Abuse 2009; 21; 363.
  22. Kate Leckie, "Halloween checks find most offenders in compliance." Frederick (MD) News-Post,  8 Nov 2008.
    Accessed 16 Oct. 2011 at http://www.wtop.com/?nid=25&sid=1513550
  23. CLS, "We're all sex offenders now-- Happy Halloween." Classically Liberal, 28 Oct. 2008. Retrieved 16 Oct. 2011
    at http://freestudents.blogspot.com/2008/10/we-are-all-sex-offenders-now-happy.html
  24. Dustin Wax, Don’t Panic! Stop Worrying and Enjoy Halloween.” Lifehack, 17 Oct. 2007. Retrieved 16 Oct. 2011
    at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/dont-panic-stop-worrying-and-enjoy-halloween.html
(c) 2007-2019 Derek  W. Logue. No part of this website may be used in any way without expressed written consent of the site owner.
SURVEY OF HALLOWEEN RESTRICTIONS FOR REGISTERED PERSONS 2019
Compiled by Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com

(Note, the original article I posted for this page is still on this page, scroll down to see it. Article has been updated to
reflect new information as of 28 Oct. 2019.)

STATE STATUTES CONTAINING HALLOWEEN RESTRICTIONS

Using the website casetext.com to search the current state legal codes, I found only five states have official laws in their
state legal codes regulating registrant participation in Halloween activities—Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and
Missouri. Of these five states, only Louisiana and Missouri apply the restrictions to all registered persons. Arkansas and
Illinois applies restrictions to both those on supervised release, parolees/ probationers, and those convicted of sexual
offenses involving anyone under age 18. Florida’s state law applies only to those on probation or parole.

The statutes of the five states with Halloween restrictions are listed below:

Arkansas – (Enacted 24 July 2019) Ark. Code § 5-14-135 prohibits all registrants classified as Tier 3 or 4 from
distributing candy or wearing masks where a minor is present UNLESS every minor at the event is a relative of the
registrant, or the costumes/ candy distribution is related to legitimate employment.

Florida – (Enacted 2010) Fla. Stat. § 947.1405 and Fla. Stat. § 948.30 both contain, among other conditions of
supervision, "A prohibition on distributing candy or other items to children on Halloween; wearing a Santa Claus
costume, or other costume to appeal to children, on or preceding Christmas; wearing an Easter Bunny costume, or
other costume to appeal to children, on or preceding Easter; entertaining at children's parties; or wearing a clown
costume; without prior approval from the court."

Illinois – Enacted in 2005, 730 ILCS 5/3-3-7 (a)(16), 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.1 (c) (18), and 730 ILCS 5/5-6-3 (a) (10) all have
the same statement that "if convicted of a sex offense as defined in subsection (a-5) of Section 3-1-2 of this Code,
unless the offender is a parent or guardian of the person under 18 years of age present in the home and no non-familial
minors are present, not participate in a holiday event involving children under 18 years of age, such as distributing
candy or other items to children on Halloween, wearing a Santa Claus costume on or preceding Christmas, being
employed as a department store Santa Claus, or wearing an Easter Bunny costume on or preceding Easter;" Under 720
ILCS 5/11-9.3 (c-2), enacted in 2013, “It is unlawful for a child sex offender to participate in a holiday event involving
children under 18 years of age, including but not limited to distributing candy or other items to children on Halloween,
wearing a Santa Claus costume on or preceding Christmas, being employed as a department store Santa Claus, or
wearing an Easter Bunny costume on or preceding Easter. For the purposes of this subsection, child sex offender has
the meaning as defined in this Section, but does not include as a sex offense under paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of
this Section, the offense under subsection (c) of Section 11-1.50 of this Code. This subsection does not apply to a child
sex offender who is a parent or guardian of children under 18 years of age that are present in the home and other non-
familial minors are not present.” Thus, it seems Halloween restrictions apply to all parolees and all registrants with
offenses against anyone under age 18.

Louisiana -- (Both were enacted in 2008) Under RS §313.1, no gifts to any child during a holiday in which gifts or candy
is given. Under RS 14:313(E), RCs are prohibited from wearing masks, hoods or disguise of any kind with the intent to
cover one's identity.

Missouri -- (Enacted 28 Aug. 2008) Under CSR 859.426, all registrants in the state are banned from contact with
children on Halloween; they must remain at home except for good cause (work, emergencies), post a sign stating "No
Candy at this residence," and leave outdoor lights off from 5pm-10:30pm.

Note: West Virginia tried unsuccessfully to pass Halloween Restrictions in 2019 (HB 2502).

HALLOWEEN RESTRICTIONS CREATED BY STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCIES

A number of Probation/ Parole departments in lacking statutory Halloween restriction laws enforce various Halloween
restrictions for those under their supervision. Some of these organizations have taken to naming their actions with
amusing names to mask the serious constitutional depravations their operations

  1. California: The California Department of Corrections’ (CDCR) Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO)
    conducts “Operation Boo”, a series of compliance checks, a curfew between 5pm and 10pm, lights out and cannot
    answer the door for anyone except law enforcement.
  2. Colorado: The Colorado Department of Correction, Division of Adult Parole states, “All offenders being
    supervised under sex offender directives are prohibited from participating in Halloween activities.  This includes
    trick-or-treating or answering the door for trick-or-treaters.  No decorations are to be displayed at the residence
    that would attract trick-or-treaters.  These parolees are directed to turn off their outside lights between the hours
    of 4 p.m. October 31 and 8 a.m. November 1.  
  3. Georgia: The Georgia Department of Community Supervision (DCS) has reported conducting annual compliance
    checks around Halloween, and some counties have made news for posting signs in yards of registrants. In the
    past, it has been reported by state agencies that RCs on paper were restricted in other Halloween activities.
  4. Idaho: Media outlets in 2017 quoted a state DOC official that stated there was a policy in place that required
    registrants to keep porch lights off and not give out candy on Halloween.
  5. Indiana: Indiana Department of Correction’s Parole Services Division has conducted “Operation Safe Halloween”
    since 2007. RCs on supervised release will be required to attend a mandatory meeting, turn in safety plans for
    the evening, or remain at home and not pass out candy.
  6. Maryland: A PO may require registrants on supervision to display signs stating “No Candy At This Residence”
  7. Nevada: “Operation Scarecrow” was most recently reported by the NV Dept. of Public Safety, Div. of Probation
    and Parole in 2017; it stated, “The goal of Operation Scarecrow was to ensure that the offenders under the
    supervision of the Division, whose crimes involved child victims, have a “no contact with children” condition and/or
    are a Tier III sex offender, were not having contact with children. These high risk sex offenders were provided with
    specific instructions to avoid any unauthorized contact with children and were prohibited from participation in
    Halloween-related festivities involving or potentially involving children. This includes a restriction that they cannot
    attend parties or pass out Halloween treats.”
  8. New York: the NY DOCCS has "Operation Halloween: Zero Tolerance that makes the following provisions--
    "Halloween conditions require that sex offenders remain indoors at home on Halloween, not wear Halloween
    costumes, not open their doors to trick-or-treaters, and not have Halloween candy in their possession."
  9. Ohio: Numerous local media outlets reported the state has a “No Candy” policy for those on supervision, and
    many sheriff’s offices plan on conducting compliance checks around Halloween. However, I have found nothing
    that indicates any statewide policy other than reports from media outlets.
  10. South Carolina: The state supervision department has issued the following: Curfew: 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. statewide
    on Halloween day Thursday, Oct. 31. Note: This does not apply to all registered sex offenders, many of whom are
    no longer on probation or parole and therefore not under the jurisdiction of SCDPPPS. No lights on outside their
    houses; no candy distribution; no participating in Halloween parties or carnivals. They must stay in their homes
    and can’t go into the street.  
  11. Tennessee: TDOC conducts "Operation Blackout" targeting parolees to prevent them from participation in
    Halloween activities.
  12. Texas: The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice imposes a curfew, lights off, and no decorations from 5pm to 5am
    Halloween night for those with child-contact restrictions. (Apparently this is a discretionary rule)
  13. Virginia: According to the VA State Police website, “If the convicted sex offender is on supervision – which means
    restrictions have been placed on them as they relate to probation/parole and not state law – then they may not be
    permitted to participate in trick-or-treat activities (i.e. porch lights must be turned off; not permitted to open the
    door to trick-or-treaters, etc.). This restriction only applies if that offender’s conditions of probation/parole prohibit
    contact with children. If the convicted sex offender is not on supervision, then they are entitled to participate in
    trick-or-treat and other Halloween activities. This does apply to convicted sex offenders featured on the Virginia
    Sex Offender Registry. The only exceptions relate to Code of Virginia 18.2-370.5, which restricts an offender's
    access to school property.”
  14. Wisconsin: DOC conducts compliance checks for parolees and prohibits them from taking part in Halloween
    activities. In addition, the state registry site added this disclaimer: Halloween Message: Registered sex offenders
    under Active Community Supervision by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections are prohibited from
    participating in Halloween activities. If you believe a registered sex offender, who is under Active Community
    Supervision according to this Web site, is participating in Halloween activities you can report the information to the
    SAFE tip phone hotline … which is answered Monday through Friday between 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM. Registered
    sex offenders having Terminated status are not on state supervision and are therefore not subject to this
    restriction.”

LOCAL ORDINANCES

A handful of Halloween restrictions may be limited to cities and counties, and not all of the local ordinances will make
headlines. For example, I received an email in 2019 from a registrant living in Tuscaloosa, AL who was concerned
because he received a letter from the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office requiring him to attend a mandatory meeting
from 6pm to 9pm on Halloween night. This letter states the meeting would be held at the Tuscaloosa Co. Sheriff’s Office
Hangar to discuss “Information” to discuss their “rights” and ‘responsibilities under the SORNA laws.”