A California city will allow sex offenders to hand out candy and interact with trick-or-treaters, overturning a long-standing law designed to protect children from sexual predators, KCAL-TV (Los Angeles) is reporting.
California law, like the laws in many of the other 49 states, places tight restrictions designed to limit the amount of contact convicted sex offenders can have with children. In Simi Valley, those laws were particularly strict when it comes to Halloween — the one holiday in the U.S. where children are actually encouraged to talk to strangers and take candy from them.
Not so for sex offenders, however. According to Simi Valley’s ordinance, those sex offenders whose crimes required them to appear on California’s Megan’s Law website (generally, they committed sexual offenses against children or committed child pornography offenses) are essentially forbidden from participating in Halloween. They’re not allowed to decorate their homes or yards with Halloween decorations; they cannot leave their porch lights on after 5:00 p.m., and they cannot answer the door for trick-or-treaters.
However, at Simi Valley’s city council meeting Monday night, town officials decided that their law was too broad and, what’s more, almost certainly wouldn’t stand up in court if anyone challenged it.
In fact, the ordinance has already been challenged in court, twice. And, fearing not being able to successfully defend it in court, Mayor Bob Huber and the city council nixed the 2012 law. That means the existing court challenges will be dismissed.
Not everyone is Simi Valley is happy with the decision. Parent Chelsea Watson doesn’t want her kids going to sex offenders’ houses to get candy.
“I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing that my son was trick-or-treating at a sex offender’s house.”
In fact, anyone can see a list of sex offenders in any California city and avoid those addresses where sex offenders live. A brief search of known offenders living in Simi Valley, on California’s Megan’s Law website, returns a couple dozen hits.
Further, parents should directly supervise their children as they interact with anybody giving them candy, and kids should be taught that they should not ever enter a stranger’s home, on Halloween or any other time.
Do you think Simi Valley was wrong to repeal its law preventing sex offenders from participating in Halloween? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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