[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official website] on Monday preliminarily enjoined parts of a new state law [SB 714 s. 589.426 text, PDF] requiring registered sex offenders to avoid most Halloween activities, suggesting that parts of the law as written are too broad and vague. The law, which was passed in June, requires that on October 31, registered sexual offenders avoid Halloween-related contact with children, stay inside their homes between 5 PM and 10:30 PM unless there is just cause to leave, turn porch lights off, and post a sign reading "No candy or treats at this residence." The judge upheld the last two provisions but said that the first two appeared to be unduly restrictive and might not allow for registered sexual offenders to participate in activities such as celebrating the holiday with their own children or traveling out of town during the holiday. Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt said [press release] of the ruling:
I am disappointed that some of the tough provisions we enacted to protect Missouri children on Halloween may not be enforced, but I am pleased that the courts agree overall this law is an important step towards further protecting our children from harm. An appeal has been filed and I strongly encourage the Court of Appeals to reverse this decision.The New York Times has more. The Southeast Missourian has local coverage.
In 2007, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] concluded in a report [text] that it is unclear whether sex offender laws "do more harm or good," noting that they prevent further harm to children but that they also encourage the harassment and ostracism of sex offenders. Georgia, New Jersey and Indiana [JURIST reports] have recently overturned sex offender laws found to be overly restrictive.