MACON, Ga. — It's Halloween eve, and while kids are preparing for trick-or-treating, law enforcement is preparing to keep those children safe from sex offenders.
This week, a federal judge ruled that posting warning signs outside some offenders' homes in Butts County is unconstitutional.
While that decision was specific to three sex offenders in Butts County, Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman says his deputies will now abide by this example.
"For the past several years, we've closely monitored [sex offenders] and placed signs in their yards, warning anyone that would go there to trick-or-treat that this residence was a convicted sex offender," says Freeman.
Freeman says if the offender didn't want to place a sign in their yard, they reported to the sheriff's office on the night of October 31st, but this year, he says offenders aren't required to do either.
That decision comes after Federal Judge Marc Treadwell ruled it was unconstitutional for Butts County Sheriff Gary Long to place a similar notice on some offenders' front doors.
Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden, and Corey McClendon asked for an injunction against Long at the beginning of October after learning that he planned to post signs outside their homes again this year on Halloween.
"This is vanity. This is them picking on a particularly vulnerable group of citizens," says the plaintiff's attorney, Mark Yurachek. "They're just looking to live quiet, private lives."
On Tuesday, Judge Treadwell ruled in the sex offenders' favor, saying the three men appeared to be rehabilitated and living law-abiding lives. He wrote that there was no evidence that the three posed any threat to children.
"It's my understanding that the ruling was specifically for the three individuals that sued, that were in Butts County. However, it's my theory that if it applied to those three, what would make it not apply to the others? And I just don't want to find out in federal court that it did apply to those," says Freeman.
Freeman says ahead of trick-or-treat time, his deputies are "double-checking" on each Monroe County sex offender's home address, and will be patrolling the streets on Halloween night.
The Georgia sex offender registry is public and is open to everyone online. You can type in your address to see if any registered sex offenders live near you or on the streets you're planning to take your children trick-or-treating on.
To view the registry, click here.
Taking a closer look at other Central Georgia counties, 13WMAZ asked some other law enforcement agencies about their Halloween plans.
We couldn't find any other departments posting signs to alert people about sex offenders, but here's what some agencies are doing:
- Sergeant Tim Leonard with Houston County's Sexual Offender Registry also says officers will drive past sex offenders houses to check up.
- Dublin Police Chief Tim Chatman says they don't have any specific requirements for sex offenders, but will have extra officers on the street to keep kids safe.
- Peach County requires sex offenders on probation to come to the courthouse for a few hours, according to Sheriff Terry Deese.
- Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee says they'll have two officers assigned to monitor the county's sex offenders Thursday.
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