A sheriff’s department in Georgia has posted “no trick or treating” signs outside sex offenders’ houses to warn off Halloween revellers.
Over the weekend, the Butts County sheriff and his deputies visited each of the 54 registered sex offenders in the county and erected eye-catching signs in their front gardens.
Illustrated with stop signs and a bag of Halloween sweets inside a caution symbol, the posters warn: “No Trick or Treating at this Address - a community safety message from Butts County Sheriff Gary Long”.
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In previous years, police in Butts County have posted a small warning note on the doors of residents convicted of sexual offences to prevent children from knocking to ask for sweets.
However, this year Sheriff Long decided to “increase visibility”, CBS reports, after a trick or treating party in the town square was cancelled, meaning “thousands of kids will be trick-or-treating the old fashioned way: house-to-house”.
Long told CBS that the measure was fully within his legal obligation to inform the local community of the presence of sex offenders, but admitted that some of those identified had complained of the “embarrassment” of being forced to display the sign outside their house.
“I’m not trying to humiliate ‘em or anything like that,” he said. “But at the end of the day if, in fact, we had a child that fell victim to a sexual assault, especially by a convicted sex offender, I don't think I could sleep at night.”
Georgia state law already “prohibits registered sex offenders from placing Halloween decorations on their property”, USA Today reports.
Some in the state want to go even further, the newspaper reports. The mayor of the east Georgia town of Grovetown announced plans to round up all sex offenders on probation and hold them in City Hall on Halloween night.
However, after the plan drew national attention, felons will instead be required to “report to local Georgia Department of Community Supervision offices or alternative, undisclosed meeting locations during trick-or-treating hours”, the Augusta Chronicle reports.
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