All sex offenders in Alabama will be required to attend an educational program on sex offender laws for four hours on Halloween night.
The Alabama State Probation and Parole Office and the U.S. Probation Office are joining together to provide the program on state and federal sex offender laws to all felony sex offenders under supervision of state and federal probation and parole offices in Huntsville.
U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance’s office requires felony sex offenders to attend the educational program, which also will provide training on employment and other community support topics. It will be 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday at an undisclosed location.
The timing of the program coincides with trick-or-treaters taking to the streets Halloween night and going door to door.
“I know parents are concerned and it’s a concern for law enforcement,” Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan said. “There are a couple of times a year I refer to as a pedophile’s dream come true. This is one of those times.”
Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer Jeffrey Purcell said the operation is a pro-active venture to provide education and training to sex offenders, and improve accountability and behavior change.
“As well as safeguard the community, in that these offenders will not be participating in Halloween activities,” he said.
Deputy Florence Police Chief Tim Shaddix backs the program.
“I know parents who have already gotten on the Internet to find where the registered sex offenders live to make sure they don’t take their children into those neighborhoods,” he said.
Logan said knowing that sex offenders will not be around on Halloween night will give parents and law enforcement some peace of mind.
“This is brilliant. I love it,” Logan said. “It will help provide a safe environment for the hundreds of kids out Halloween night and their parents.”
In Tennessee, state probation and parole officers will be making announced and unannounced visits to make sure convicted sex offenders are complying with restrictions during Halloween.
They cannot answer the door to trick-or-treaters, pass out candy, decorate their homes, host Halloween parties or wear costumes, state officials said. Local law enforcement officers will be going with probation and parole officers on many of the visits.
“I know this is a concern for the public and for parents, but hopefully these measures will ease their concerns,” Shaddix said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.
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