The mayor of a town in Georgia has announced plans to have the city round up its registered sex offenders on Halloween night and detain them at city hall.
In a Facebook post Monday, Grovetown, Georgia Mayor Gary Jones said that, “in order to ensure the safety of our children” all 25-30 sex offenders on probation in the city, accompanied police, would be detained at city hall for three hours on Halloween while children trick-or-treat.
In exchanges with commenters on his Facebook post, Jones clarified that there had been no incidents that sparked the decision and that it had been made as a purely precautionary measure.
While many who saw Jones’ post were shocked, WXIA-TV in Atlanta reported that the Georgia Department of Community Supervision is allowed to require paroled sex offenders to check in at a specific location at any time.
According to the Washington Post, Jones had originally said that all sex offenders, not just paroled ones, would be housed in city hall, but that could be considered a form of unlawful detention.
A couple hours after he posted, he seemed to realize the scale of the blowback and addressed it in another post. “Friends I am not personally going to pick up, round up, call or going to any sex offender’s home,” he wrote, explaining that the city was working with probation services. “This is legal….. good grief!”
Many of the commenters who acknowledged that the action may be legal still took issue with what they saw as an absurd measure. There is no evidence that children are more likely to be targeted by sexual predators on Halloween than any other night.
As the Associated Press reported, Jones has made headlines before. As the city’s police chief in 2014, he required all inmates to wear hot pink uniforms. He said he was inspired by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio—Jones’ hero, according to Reuters—who had made his inmates wear pink underwear as a form of attempted humiliation.