The sheriff’s office in Butts County, Georgia, has been placing yard signs in front of the homes of registered sex offenders in the area that read, “Warning! No trick-or-treat at this address!!” Each one of the 54 registered sex offenders in the county now has a sign in their yards.
“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,” Sheriff Gary Long 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.”
In previous years, the sheriff’s office has just put signs on the doors of homes belonging to sex offenders in preparation for Halloween. Georgia state agencies have traditionally forbidden sex offenders from decorating their houses and participating in other Halloween activities. This year, however, Long claims that there will be more house-to-house trick or treating because a popular Halloween event in the town square has been canceled. Therefore, the sheriff decided to make the signs more prominent because of the expected increase in foot traffic through certain neighborhoods.
The Butts County Sheriff’s Office has argued it has the right to do so under a Georgia law that dictates that sheriffs must, in part, “Inform the public of the presence of sexual offenders in each community.”
Last week, the mayor of Grovetown, Georgia—located about 100 miles away from Butts County—announced plans to corral the city’s registered sex offenders and detain them at City Hall for three hours on Halloween. The mayor, Gary Jones, also justified his actions by citing the safety of kids trick or treating.
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