Some people tell me Halloween is their favorite holiday of the year. The opportunity to put on a costume, act a little crazy, be a little scary. Many adults enjoy Halloween as much (or more?) than children do!
If you are on the sex offender registry in Illinois, Halloween may well be your least favorite time of the year. Because of a lot of unfounded hype, Illinois passed a law a few years back prohibiting those on the registry from participating in certain holiday events, and chief among them was Halloween.
The law itself is vague and confusing, and is often enforced differently depending on where you live. What is clear is that a registered sex offender is not allowed to pass out candy. Beyond that, it gets a little murkier. Clearly, you should not dress in costume and attend a children’s party (except in your own home when just your children are present.)
But can you dress up in costume and go to an adult Halloween party? Nothing in the law prohibits that, but many registered individuals avoid anything that could possibly be misinterpreted by the police.
If you are on parole or probation (and on the registry), you might be summoned to a “mandatory” meeting on Halloween night. There have been some reports of cities trying to summon ALL registered sex offenders to such a meeting, though there is certainly nothing in the law that supports such a requirement.
One thing is for sure: during Halloween season, you can expect a lot of media hype. News articles warning people to check the registry before sending their kids out to trick-or-treat, politicians grandstanding with dire warnings of the dangers of sexual predators. Regardless of whether or not you choose to participate in Halloween, these kinds of news stories take a toll on registered citizens. It’s easy to begin to feel bad about yourself when you hear such negative stories.
Before you start getting down, you should know that those that have studied these laws have concluded that they are non-sense, knee-jerk responses to fabricated dangers. They fall into the same category as razorblades in apples and rat poison in milky ways. Research shows that there is no increase in danger from sex offenders (or any other crimes against children) at Halloween. In fact, one researcher says the greatest danger for children at Halloween is being hit by a car.
Be smart and be safe at Halloween. If you enjoy the holiday and want to participate, find an all-adult Halloween party to attend. If not, then go to a movie, or to a friend’s house, or out to dinner. If you have children, find someone who can take them out trick-or-treating or to their Halloween party. Or check with the person at your local police/sheriff's department who's in charge of sex offender registration to find out if they consider it a violation to take your OWN children trick-or-treating.
It’s a sad reality that you may be watched on Halloween—by the police, by the neighbors. But don’t let it ruin your day. Remember, this is their issue, not yours.
Click Here to read about how others deal with Halloween