Halloween Sex Offender Laws (CA Penal Code 290-294)

As you head out this evening to help with trick or treating or to attend that fabulous party, you should keep in mind that certain activities are restricted in the state of California during Halloween.  Some of the laws that are currently on the books are downright ridiculous, while some may help to keep everyone safe on this, the spookiest night of the year.

For example, Halloween sex offender laws can be particularly limiting.  These laws may prevent sex offenders from doing everything from driving after dark that one particular evening to being forced to leave their lights off.  One law that has recently been repealed forced registered sex offenders (CA Penal Code 290-294) to place signs in their windows that alerted children to the fact that they were not giving out candy.  What all of this adds up to is one part of a culture of fear that has developed over recent decades, especially when it comes to the safety of children.  While safety is important, it may be time for citizens to wonder whether or not the law has gone too far.

Just this morning, the South Pasadena Patch published public service announcement assuring everyone that law enforcement’s 21st Annual “Operation Boo” would be conducted again this year.  What exactly is Operation Boo?  It is an all-night system of compliance checks for registered sex offenders and is conducted by the LAPD, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Registration Enforcement and Compliance Team (REACT).  Considering that  not all persons registered as sex offenders were arrested for child molestation, some may have only urinated in public, the “special instructions” and compliance patrolling seem harsh.  In face, according to the CDCR website, “special instructions” for sex offenders on Halloween include:

“A 5 am curfew during which parolees must remain indoors; All exterior lights of their homes must be turned off so that it looks as if no one is home, which discourages children from approaching; No offering of Halloween candy and no Halloween decorations are allowed; During the curfew, sex offender parolees can only open the door to respond to law enforcement , such as parole agents who are patrolling their caseload to ensure compliance.”