Your initial thought might be “oh no! those poor children living in those states.” However “no candy” laws don’t mean what you think they do. Ten states across the U.S. have enacted laws protecting children during trick-or-treat activities by limiting the actions of registered sex offenders.
Sex Crimes do Not Increase on Halloween
Even though research shows that sex offenders are not more active on Halloween than any other night, a few states in the nation have made it illegal for registered sex offenders to hand out candy to children.
States with “No Candy” Laws
Some of the states that use “no candy” laws are Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. After particularly gruesome murders of young children on Halloween, law officials devised these added restrictions on paroled and registered sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours.
California showed its sense of humor by naming their law “Operation Boo” which allows law enforcement officers to perform surprise visits on sex offenders to be sure they are home, not handing out candy and their lights are out. New York has a similar law called Halloween: Zero Tolerance.
A Parent’s Viewpoint
If you are a parent with kids, nothing is scarier than a sex offender, but one dressed up in a Halloween costume seems like an absolute nightmare. If you live in one of the “no candy” states, you can at least rest easier on Halloween when your little ones are out collecting candy. It’s enough to worry about your children out at night, in the dark and dodging traffic, add to that the possibility of a sex offender preying on them while they enjoy the holiday and it’s more than most parents can bear.
If more states in the country adopted these same laws, at least for one night of the year, parents would know their kids are safe and sound. These added restrictions offer a level of security that on most nights is absent. Theoretically, as a parent, you feel that your child is more vulnerable on Halloween than other days, but the truth is the data does not support that.
Rules for the Sex Offender
If you are a sex offender on Halloween, you might as well go to bed early and turn off all the lights. The law prohibits you from wearing a costume or mask on Halloween. You also cannot drive after dark, pass out candy, and in some states, you will have to post a sign in your front yard saying “no candy given out at this residence.” In other locations, if you are a registered pedophile you cannot be out in the streets, visit a corn maze or haunted house, or you will face serious felony charges. Unless it is an absolute emergency, you must be home with the lights off. There is no fun to be had by you on Halloween.
Depending on where you live, if you are a convicted sex criminal, you need to learn the “no candy” laws in your area and comply or you could end up back in prison.
Harsh Realities Offer Peace of Mind
These restrictions may seem harsh to the sex offender or their supporters, but they give parents and town officials peace of mind knowing the kids are safe when running from house-to-house around town during trick-or-treating. Halloween is a fun holiday that delights kids and grown-ups, and it should be safe and fun. That is the purpose of the “no candy” laws.
Opponents of these laws claim that sexual predators have done their time and served their sentence and these laws punish them further. Some even say they violate civil rights and incite more fear in the minds of parents about re-offending.
Regardless of how you feel about the Halloween laws, if you are a registered sex offender, you need to comply with your county “no candy” rules, and if you are a parent, you should educate yourself about what laws exist in your town to protect your children. As long as everyone is clear about their responsibilities, Halloween can be a fun, scary and exciting tradition for everyone!