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, 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 endof 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.