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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Marshall Project: Is Halloween Really More Dangerous for Kids? A Lack of Evidence Doesn’t Stop Cities from Rounding Up Sexual Offenders on the Holiday.



Is Halloween Really More Dangerous for Kids? October 28, 2015
A lack of evidence doesn’t stop cities from rounding up sexual offenders on the holiday.
By Anat Rubin

 This story was produced in collaboration with Mic. 

Before the sun sets on Halloween, Allen O’Shea will make his way to the local courthouse in Gaston County, N.C., where he will remain for several hours under the watchful eye of law enforcement until trick-or-treating has ended. 

This will be O’Shea’s first Halloween as a registered sex offender, a label he earned after having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 19. He admits he was wrong. Still, being held in custody because costumed children are walking the streets asking for candy strikes him as absurd.  

“My crime had nothing to do with kids,” he said. “I made a 19-year-old mistake. I didn’t go and molest a 5-year-old, and I’m being treated as someone who did.”  

The consequences of ending up on a state sex offender registry are harsh, making it extremely difficult to find a job or even a place to live.  

But on no day is the fallout stranger than it is on Halloween.
 
Despite research showing no evidence that children are at greater risk of experiencing sex abuse on Halloween than on any other day, states and localities around the country impose severe restrictions on registered sex offenders during the holiday.  

Some, including parts of Virginia, Georgia, Delaware and Texas, require sex offenders on probation or parole report to designated locations. Others, such as Missouri, Florida and Nevada, direct some offenders to post signs on their doors that say, “No candy or treats at this residence.” Broader restrictions in most states direct people on the registry to keep their lights off to deter trick-or-treaters and stay away from children in costumes in their neighborhood or at the local mall.