Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Megan's Law v. Halloween
According to this article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer,
The state parole board is forbidding sex offenders under its supervision to answer the door for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
Any offender spotted handing out candy or in the presence of children could be bounced back to prison for as long as a year and a half, parole board spokesman Edward Bray said.
Last week, the board sent a letter to the 2,200 sex offenders under its supervision. The letter orders them to observe a 7 p.m. curfew; bans them from Halloween parties where children might be present; forbids them to go trick-or-treating with any child, including their own; and orders them not to answer the door for any trick-or-treater.
It is an interesting preventative strategy. I wonder if the state had empirical evidence of a higher-than-average rate of illegal behavior on halloween? In any event, don't forget that there are costs (perhaps ones we can justify) to rules like this:
Steven Elwell, 35, a former Cape May high school teacher and coach, pleaded guilty in 2001 to having sexual contact with a 16-year-old student and served one year in prison. Classified as a low-risk offender, he is now married with two young children and is an outspoken opponent of the growing number of local laws restricting where sex offenders can live.
"We were going to take our kids out trick-or-treating. It was going to be my son's first time, but now I'm not allowed to go, so I'm a little upset about it," Elwell said. "The way I look at it, I'm being punished again for the same crime."
Elwell said he had not received the letter. He said none of the other Megan's Law registrants at a court-ordered therapy class he just attended had received the letter, either.
Bray said 60 officers assigned to the parole board's Sex Offender Management Unit will perform spot checks on sex offenders' homes Monday night.
. . .
That came as a surprise to some police departments.
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Tracked on Oct 30, 2005 10:11:10 PM
The NYT has a story about this today too, looking beyond PA: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/nyregion/26offenders.html?th&emc=th
Posted by: Dan Markel | Oct 26, 2005 9:52:12 AM