Sex offenders in one Georgia town are reportedly going to spend prime trick-or-treating hours far away from any children — but not all parents are in favor of the plan.
As WFXG News reports, Mayor Gary Jones of Grovetown, Georgia announced on Facebook that, “to ensure the safety of our children,” all sex offenders on probation in the area will have to spend Halloween night at City Hall.
In order to ensure the safety of our children, all sex offenders (on Probation) in the City of Grovetown (area) will be…
Jones explained that there are about 25 to 30 sex offenders in the City of Grovetown. All of them will be required to show up at Council Chambers between 6 and 9 p.m. on Halloween night, where they will be overseen by a member of the Grovetown police and four officers from the state Department of Community Supervision.
In response to an inquiry as to whether this plan was prompted by a specific incident or problem on Halloween, Jones replied:
There have been no incidents and this is being ran by the GA Community Services Probationary Dept. We are assisting and providing the facility. They have the authority to do this under Special Conditions.
The safety measure has sparked controversy with some parents in favor of the peace of mind it provides and others criticizing it as unfair.
Local mom Bethany Williamson told WFXG that she disliked the sweeping policy: “It should be case by case. By who needs to go and who doesn’t.”
However, local dad, Tim Hester disagreed. He told WFXG:
“I think it’s a good idea if they can pull it off. That way people don’t have to worry about their kids. They should still walk around with their kids and not let them go trick or treating by themselves.”
The Mayor’s announcement also resulted in national criticism.
The Washington Post quoted research indicating that there is no evidence that sex crimes against children increase around Halloween. Sandy Rozek of the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws told the Post city resources would be better spent looking for drunk drivers and called the Mayor’s actions, “a ridiculous, wasted effort.”
On Facebook, reactions were split. Some believed the plan was unfair or undemocratic:
Meanwhile, others cheered Jones on for making the city safer for children on Halloween.
James Hill, a Public Information Officer with the Department of Community Supervision, told WFXG that all state counties have the option to be part of the Halloween plan, which they do every year: “It would be no different than instructing an individual sex offender or otherwise to report to one of our offices.”
Jones returned to Facebook to defend the operation and point out that he won’t be rounding up sex offenders, but that he is merely participating in a joint project that requires them to report to City Hall:
“Friends I am not personally going to pick up, round up, call or going to any sex offender’s home. This is a joint effort with GA Community Probation Services. They are the ones with the authority under Special Conditions to require that offenders report. The reporting location is Grovetown City Hall. This is legal….. good grief!”