Sex Offenders Sue Over Law Prohibiting Halloween Decor
They say it violates their free-speech rights
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2012 3:26 PM CDT
If you are a sex offender in Simi Valley, this is not OK.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A California city cracked down on sex offenders' Halloween celebrations last month, passing a law prohibiting those convicted of sex crimes from decorating for the holiday or passing out candy at their homes. Now Simi Valley is getting sued by five registered sex offenders and some of their wives and children, who claim the new law violates their First Amendment right to free speech, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Their lawyer says her clients were particularly upset by the part of the law that requires them to post a sign on their front door reading, "No candy or treats at this residence." "To us, it's similar to branding," she said before making, yes, a Holocaust comparison: "We can think of what happened in Nazi Germany, where Jews had to appear in public wearing yellow stars." She is seeking an injunction from a federal judge barring the city from enforcing the law. Similar laws are in place in several other California cities.

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Oct 3, 2012 5:44 PM CDT
As I understand the attorney's analogy to Jews, it is that not only were Jews persecuted for being Jews, but they were forced to wear a symbol informing everyone of their stigma. Forcing someone to put a sign or label or mark on their home or person, of ANY kind, is forced speech.
Oct 3, 2012 5:29 PM CDT
These comments show a lot of emotion and ignorance on the subject of sex offenders and registration. The ones advocating death, castration, etc. are off topic. I think many folks faill to get it that the Bill of Rights is to limit government, not people. Janice Bellucci and RSOL are constitutionally and morally correct. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of registrants and their FAMILIES. Spouses and children, who did not exist when the offender committed his crime and should not be penalized. 95000 + on the registry, times 2.5 people, adds up to over 200,000 people impacted by registration and extralegal ordinances. That's what, one in every 7 Californians? “Just an extension” of being on the SO list does not satisfy constitutional muster. Where does that extension stop? My government can not make me put any kind of symbol or sign or statement on my house. None. Sure, you can if you want to, but the problem is when government FORCES you to do so. We know the public registry is too broad. It’s forever. It’s wrong. That’s a discussion for another day. You, however, confuse sex offenders, pedophiles and child molesters. You lump them all together, like the registry does, and that’s a big mistake.These people, plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are trying to reintegrate into society, live a life and mind their own business. Those that haven't been driven into homelessness, by another stupid law that was just struck down in San Diego. Simi is making it impossible.The actual recidivism rate of sexual offenders, per the Department of Justice and CA Sex Offender Management board is about 5%. Those people are not on a registry. Drunk drivers, however, reoffend at 85%. I’d spend my time watching for drunk drivers. Do we want Simi cops checking for signs, or real crime? This is a poor use of resources, and the law doesn’t do what it says it will do (keep kids safe). You want to be safe on Hallowe'en? Let the police do their job, and teach your children to talk to you about any kind of uncomfortable behavior. 95% of child sexual abuse occurs within the family of the victim, or the child's immediate circle - clergy, day care, etc.
Oct 3, 2012 3:48 PM CDT
molestation of a child under 12 should be mandatory life in prison. i'm on the fence about death penalty for anyone. but if it could be proven without a doubt, like with pics or video, i'd sentence a child molester to death.