Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is August Too Early to Write About Sex Offenders and Halloween?

I really didn't expect to be writing about Halloween until mid to late September, but here it is a full month earlier, and here I am, writing about it.                                                                                                      

It seems that in the state of Michigan, one eager, young state senator has latched onto a tactic proven to endear her to her voting public--propose legislation that restricts registered sex offenders in some shape, form, or fashion. Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R) has introduced Senate Bill 454 which is designed "to prohibit convicted sex offenders whose crime involved a minor from participating in Halloween costumes and 'trick or treats,' children’s birthday parties, and similar non-holiday activities involving minors."  
Sen. Schuitmaker could have chosen better. Every year close to Halloween, a spate of "news" items are released about the towns and counties that will be enforcing bans on any sex offender participation in Halloween activities. Some brag about the elaborate plans they have devised to require all registrants to come to a central location for a "therapy" session. These will be followed by another spate of articles and studies about the waste of resources this involves and the fact that it is totally unneeded.

Prominant among the studies is one by Dr. Jill Levenson et al, prominent researchers and experts on the topic. After describing various studies that examined the issue over many years, the authors conclude, "These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist." The bottom line is that there is no recorded instance of an assault on a child by a registered sex offender under the guise of trick-or-treating or any Halloween activity.

Some counties in California in recent years have been especially zealous in this endeavor, so much so that they crossed the line into clear constitutional violations and came out on the short end of some of the legal action filed last year by California RSOL.

A paragraph in an article published last year after Halloween shows the folly of focusing on registrants as an increased risk factor on Halloween.
... jurisdictions across the nation are making headlines for their efforts in keeping children safe from registered sex offenders on Halloween. Halloween has come and gone, and no children anywhere were harmed or, as far as anyone knows, even approached by such an offender. This includes the thirteen states in which there are no mandates in place regarding sex offenders and Halloween; it includes the many jurisdictions and counties where no such mandates exist even though others in the same state have them. And it includes going back as many years as records have been kept. Even though there is no police report of a child being attacked on Halloween by a registrant, ever, some states and counties choose to dedicate great resources to protecting children at Halloween from them. And the result is their success rate is exactly the same as it is in the counties and states that spent not a penny: 100 percent success rate for all.
Our country has many problems. We need to focus our resources on the actual problems, and we need to frame legislation and laws so that they reflect what empirical evidence shows. We do not need any more laws on the books that address issues that do not even exist.


  1. Excellent article, Ms Stow. I wonder if Senator Schuitmaker feels secretly ashamed for stooping to such a hackneyed political ploy? I am assuming that she is an educated woman and knows that the facts belie the myths and lies on which she is basing her bill. Shame on you, Senator Schuitmaker, why don't you spend your time, and your constituents money, on something that really will make a positive difference?

  2. I'm not so sure about this. It is surely documented that pedophiles who seek out children do whatever it takes to give them access to victims. Why is is so far-fetched that they would have candy on Halloween or dress in costume or go places where children were having parties and try to blend in? Why not make it as illegal as possible and as difficult as possible to do this? What is lost by being extra careful?

    1. Ms.Park, the title of this blog is With Justice for All. Is there something not clear about that? Apublicdefender has written on his highly esteemed blog, the following. Perhaps it will answer the question you posed. "

      While One Must Always Protect The Children, we shouldn’t do so at the expense of basic freedoms and liberties. This is an excellent example of everything I constantly say on this blog: that the rights and freedoms and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution are guaranteed to us all, regardless of whether we are a flawless upper-class white male from the ‘burbs, or a dude named Packingham who has been convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child. Because, when it comes to the First Amendment, there’s no functional difference between Packingham and you. So if you’re raise your voice against Packingham’s rights, you’re doing so at your own expense."

    2. I tend not to understand why my decade plus misdomeanor I would be a danger on Halloween. I raised my children as a single parent and got caught up in this nonesess before Adam Walsh and SORNA. Now I need to be played out like a danger on holloween? Seriously find a hobby and get a life and stay out of mine and my families you fruit cake. Turn off cable news and read a book please! Your stupidity is a danger to me and my family!

  3. Freedom and constitutional rights are lost, Mallory.
    I suppose anything is possible, do you walk around wearing a helmet in case a meteor might fall on your head? The point is that there is NO record of an offender harming or even approaching a child. Are you in favor of punishing someone who MIGHT commit a crime? Most child abductions are perpetrated by the parents, so are most murders of children. So should we forbid parents to be with their own children? This info is courtesy of Parent's for Megan's Law. http://www.parentsformeganslaw.org/public/prevention_childSexualAbuse.html

  4. It is apparent that the Senator has chosen the "low hanging fruit" of sex offender legislation in an attempt to raise her visibility. Ironic indeed that her website features a Citizen's Guide to State Government, which states "In order to be true representatives of the people, legislators need to know the thinking of their constituents on those issues upon which decisions will be made, and the facts on which such thinking and conclusions are based."
    http://www.misenategop.com/senators/publications.asp?District=20. Let us inform her of the facts on which her erroneous thinking and conclusions are based, and see what she does with them. At this point, she is opening her state to litigation, and as a practicing lawyer in her father's firm, she should not be so cavalier with Michigan's funds.

  5. Mallory, where is this "surely documented"? Have you any evidence of anyone, registered citizen or not, dressing up on Hallowe'en for this sole purpose? I do not advocate child abuse or sexual violence in any form, and I have survived it. What is lost by being extra careful, you ask? Think of what we did to American citizens of Japanese ancestry in the name of "extra careful". Examples of extreme, illegal and worst of all - INEFFECTIVE violations of citizens' rights in the name of "safety" are legion. If these indignities were at all useful in addressing the problem, it would be easier to justify them. Please look beyond the hysteria and protect your children wisely - with education and open dialogue. The vast majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated within the home and the child's close social circle, NOT by strangers in costume on Hallowe'en or any other day. If a sex offender named Mallory was convicted, and a law was passed saying ALL persons named Mallory had to wear a large red sign to warn potential victims off, would you object?
    Laws based on myth and hysteria, which are ineffective in their purpose, must be struck down. They protect NO ONE.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. LOL; I tried to remove it because it was blank, not because it was objectionable. The system had been malfunctioning; that is why that great blank space is there that I cannot eliminate.

  7. Prisoners in Michigan serve longer sentences than in any other state. That's according to a recent Pew study, which finds lengthy sentences have bloated the state's corrections budget. Michigan spends more than two billion dollars a year on prisons.

    The average sentence in Michigan is 4.3 years. That compares with a national average of 2.9 years.

    Michigan's prison population has grown faster than the state's general population and the crime rate.

    One would think this would lower the crime rate but it didnt. It just increased debt to the Michigan tax payer.

    A older prison population means higher health care costs. Recently it was ruled that all kids sentenced to die in Michigan prisons get a second chance.

    Michigan is forth with the highest rate if sex offenders in the U.S.

    I don't believe the United States believes in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I find reading it similar to what was once known as our Consitution and the Bill of Rights.

    We sex offenders have certain fundamental rights just as being human beings in a civilized society.

    Using we need to protect our selves from you guys and not done in a fair individual way is a lynch mob that is at least partially to blame for a enormous deficit.

    Detroit has a $327 million dollar deficit and 30,000 former city workers may very well loose retirement pensions.

    It might be time to look more closely at politicians and the need to punish and spend and the lynch mob that disregards other factors in expanding the sex offender registry rather than trying to control it.

  8. A very accurate study done regarding this subject.


  9. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance to prove themselves. I am a registered sex offender and paid my debt to society in accordance with the laws that applied to the crime at the time of my sentencing which was in January 1989. I went to prison and was released November 1993 on parole and then released from parole April 2001. I must say that my parole was flawless as well as my prison time. Going through a two year program while incarcerated made me realize just how much I had hurt some one's life as well as my own. When my crime took place I was doing drugs and drinking alcohol...this was no excuse for my crime but I don't believe for one second that had I been in my right frame of mind and sober it would not have happened. It has been 25 years now since my crime took place and I have not re-offended or even thought about doing so. I am proof that people can turn their life around and do the right thing. I don't believe the registry does anyone any good...the records prove it and it is unfair that a law is put into effect on a certain date like July 1st at midnight...( let me see if I got this right)... A law goes into effect at midnight on a certain day...okay...we have two sex offenders on parole and there is no registry yet, but the registry law goes into effect at midnight July 1st...however, one offender's parole ends June 30th and the other one's at a later date. So, we are talking about a one second margin here where one guy has to register and the other one doesn't. How in Gods' name can there be any justice in that? The whole thing is a joke and the registry does nothing to stop anyone from re-offending or someone offending that has never been caught...makes no sense at all. Most all of offenses against children are done by either a parent, relative, or close friend, but, when one does happen that is done by some real pervert and the child goes missing and then usually found died, that is when the News Media spreads it all over the place and gets every one in a panic. On the other hand they never say anything about the parent, relative, or close friend that molests or rapes. AND they never say anything about people like me that have actually turned their lives around.


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Thank you.