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Talk back: Should Halloween restrictions be placed on sex offenders?

October 2, 2012 |  9:21 am

A number of California communities have begun enforcing Halloween restrictions on sex offenders, banning them from putting up holiday displays and outside lighting on Oct. 31. Some are required to place a sign on their front doors, telling children no candy or treats will be handed out.

But some believe such restrictions violates the 1st Amendment rights and those of their families.

Talk back LATimes reporter Steve Chawkins reported that less than a month after Simi Valley approved Halloween restrictions for registered sex offenders, the city has been sued.

Both the prohibition on decorations and the mandatory sign violate free-speech rights, according to the lawsuit.

Chawkins reported that 119 registered sex offenders live in Simi Valley. Although some have been convicted of misdemeanors and do not have their names displayed, 67 have been guilty of more serious crimes and are publicly listed on the Megan's Law website. None has been involved in crimes involving children on Halloween, according to police, who say they have no records of any such crime occurring in Simi Valley during Halloween trick-or-treating.

City officials have said the action was preemptive and modeled after ordinances adopted by other cities in Southern California. City documents supporting the ordinance say trick-or-treating offers "significant opportunities for sex offenders to victimize children."

Attorney Janice Belluci represents five registered sex offenders, three of their wives and two of their children. She said she plans to ask a federal judge for an injunction to keep the city from enforcing its new law this Halloween. She filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court. Her clients were not named.

Bellucci, head of an advocacy group called California Reform Our Sex Offender Laws, said there have been no similar lawsuits in California. Her clients, she said, were particularly upset by the sign requirement.

"To us, it's similar to branding," she said. "We can think of what happened in Nazi Germany, where Jews had to appear in public wearing yellow stars."

What do you think? Should sex offenders be forced to put signs on their front doors that say: "No candy or treats at this residence"? Should Halloween restrictions be placed on sex offenders? Tell us what you think.


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Photo: Halloween pumpkin.  Credit: Kevin Clark / Associated Press