Dr. Huginkiss of the GBOC posted a challenge to find any piece of evidence – no matter how shaky – to support special crackdowns on sex offenders on Halloween. The winner gets a jumbo bag of candy and i LOVE candy. I was also intrigued to see if I could find anything, especially as I have beef with CJ policies that actually cost money but have not been shown to reduce crime , and especially when such policies strike me as being discriminating and I hate discrimination.
So I did a little digging, and – surprise, surprise – I found nothing. Well, not nothing, but definitely not any evidence. What I did find is that among some of the prohibitions is even wearing a costume, presumably in the privacy of one’s own home, and many policy makers are willing to ADMIT that the policies are not based on actual increases in sexual predator crimes on Halloween, but rather as a response to a perceived “uptick” in child abduction cases (yes, child abduction, which could or could not be sexual predator related.) Here’s a few examples:
Westchester County, NY (2005) :The Halloween initiative does not come in response to a spike in molestations or abductions on the holiday, however. “We have never had an incident on Halloween night,” Hochman said. But highly publicized cases of brutal child abductions in recent years have heightened citizen activism and put pressure on local authorities to monitor sex offenders more closely.
Spokane, WA (2007): “Here we’re creating a new police action squad to go out and address a problem that has never manifested itself in the community,” Gresback told the newspaper. He said in 20 years he’d never run across a case of a sex offender attacking a child on Halloween.
But states and communities don’t want to take any chances.
These laws are also being lauded as “protection” for the offenders themselves:
Baltimore (2008): “By making a commitment to refrain from participating in Halloween activities, you will enable the children and parents in your neighborhood to enjoy the holiday without undue anxiety,” said the letter signed by Patrick McGee, Director of the Maryland Division of Parole and Probation. “In addition, you will also protect yourself from misunderstandings and the allegations that may arise from them.”
And apparently not all are aware of the need for a comparison group when deciding that the policies bring good “results” (again Baltimore):
“We’ve had very good results,” Wonda Adams, said a supervisor at the Parole and Probation Division and coordinator of the Halloween watch program.
“Our goal is public safety, and in keeping with that we need to make sure that the individuals under our supervision are provided with the enhanced supervision that we’re committed to.”
How does she know that she is getting good results – i.e. reduced crime – if there is no evidence that a crime would have been committed in absence of the law?
Thanks for pointing this out, Dr. H! We should ALL be concerned about how our tax dollars are being spent on policies that are more about fear than about sensible policies.