A Georgia mayor plans to round up all of the sex offenders in his jurisdiction who are on probation and make them spend the evening in City Hall, USA Today is reporting. And the plan is perfectly legal under Georgia law.
Grovetown Mayor Gary E. Jones wrote on Facebook on Monday that the 25-30 sex offenders who live in the rural community near Augusta should plan on spending the better part of the evening downtown.
“In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders (on Probation) in the City of Grovetown (area) will be housed in the Council Chambers on Halloween night from 6pm-9pm. There are approx. 25-30 offenders and they will be overseen by the GA Dept. of Community Supervision District 10 (4 officers) and accompanied by one Grovetown Officer.”
And it’s perfectly legal: Georgia law allows sheriffs to require paroled sex offenders to check into a specific location at any time – say, Halloween night. However, The Washington Post notes that no other counties are planning on detaining sex offenders that night. Further, the Post notes that there have been no incidents of sex offenders victimizing trick-or-treaters in Grovetown.
Legal or not, that doesn’t mean that everyone in Grovetown is on board with the idea.
Sandy Rozek, the communications director for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws, for example, calls Jones’ plan a “ridiculous, wasted effort.”
Another commenter pointed out how easy it can be to be labeled a sex offender, such as by urinating outside. Another suggested that if they’re going to round up criminals that night, they should round up all criminals.
“If you’re going to do this, why stop at sex offenders? Why not include robbers, nonsexual assaulters, kidnappers, and murderers? This is one of those instances where an elected official is just pandering for good press.”
Others welcomed the plan, praising Jones for his attempt at protecting children.
In fact, according to a 2009 study by the University of Oklahoma, Lynn University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the Snohomish County prosecutor’s office found no evidence that sex crimes against children increased on or around Halloween.
“These findings raise questions about the wisdom of diverting law enforcement resources to attend to a problem that does not appear to exist.”
In fact, the study notes that children are in much more danger on Halloween night than other nights, but it’s not because of sex offenders. Rather, on Halloween, children are much more likely to be hit by cars rather than victimized by sex offenders.