Sunday, October 14, 2007

Signs of The Times - Sad But True

Trick or Treaters should beware in Baltimore, or at least heed some signage.

Sex offenders now must put warning labels on their homes on Halloween, which say: "No Candy At This Residence".
For the second straight year, parole and probation agents plan to team with local police to dissuade sex offenders who are not allowed to have contact with children from participating in the holiday.

"We actually print out the signs for the offenders and hand them to them," said Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for the Division of Parole and Probation. "We expect them to post the signs."

In addition to the signs, all such offenders have been advised in a letter to stay home from 6 p.m. on Halloween until the next morning, leave their lights off and refuse to answer their doors.

Several states, including Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia and Texas, ban registered sex offenders from handing out candy on Halloween, going to kids' parties, or being on the streets.
I'm not sure I know what to think about this sort of thing - it does seem kind of "Scarlett Letter-ish". We have had a whole "to do" about a serial rapist who just was released from jail in CT and is going to live in Southbury with his family. It's a really interesting issue - I mean these people have done time and are supposed to be rehabilitated and be able to integrate into our communities - and yet - we all recognize that these convicted criminals have an illness or weakness that cannot be easily dealt with, and there also is the possibility of recidivism. Maybe the best solution is to send them all packing to live in a retirement community in Florida somewhere - or otherwise isolate them like lepers once were. Who knows? Is there really a solution for people who commit such heinous crimes? Can they ever really live peacefully within our communities? What if criminals out on parole, or who have served their time, had to wear some sort of identifying bracelet forever. Or what would people say if drunk drivers had to forever post a sign on their car bumper warning people of their past crime and illness? How would that be any different? Obviously it's a loss of privacy. Perhaps that's just another consequence of their crime that they have to deal with. Another issue may very well be - why aren't we giving more thought to the victims of these crimes?

On the other hand, I also think that people do have the right to know about convicted sex offenders living in their community. The CT registry is here and other states have their registries available as well.

So, what do you think?