Editor’s Note: This is a copy of a press release issued to the media by CA RSOL on October 25:

Riverside County’s Halloween Ordinance

Violates U.S. Constitution

The ordinance recently adopted by Riverside County which prohibits “sex offenders” from celebrating Halloween in their own homes violates the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the ordinance abridges the First Amendment right to free speech of anyone convicted of a sex-related crime (“sex offenders”) by prohibiting them from decorating their homes inside or outside in celebration of Halloween as well as displaying decorative lighting and answering the front door of their homes during that evening.

Any person that violates the ordinance is subject to a fine up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail. Imprisonment for violation of this ordinance would violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which protects citizens from unreasonable seizures.

“Instead of protecting the citizens of Riverside County, this ordinance harms thousands of citizens in that County,” stated Janice Bellucci, State Organizer of the California Reform Sex Offender Laws organization. “There are more than 2,500 people living in Riverside County that have been convicted of a sex-related crime and this ordinance violates their constitutional rights as well as the constitutional rights of their family members.”

“It is a myth that strangers are the perpetrators of sexual assault against juveniles. The fact is that only 7 percent of those perpetrators are strangers. At least 25 percent of the perpetrators are family members and an additional 60 percent of the perpetrators are acquaintances known to the victim,” Bellucci stated.

“Those convicted of sex-related crimes are not likely to assault a child on Halloween or at any other time,” she added. “The recidivism rate of a person convicted of a sex-related crime while on parole is a mere 3.25 percent and only 5 percent after parole.”

The California Reform Sex Offender Laws organization is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the civil rights of individuals convicted of sex-related offenses. There are at least 70,000 people in the state of California who are registered as sex offenders. The crimes for which registered individuals have been convicted include teens who have consensual sex with another teen, urinating in public, and possession of pornography on a computer.

Current state law requires that those listed on the state’s registry will remain on the registry for their lifetime. California is only 1 of 4 states in the U.S. that require lifetime registration for those convicted of sex-related offenses.

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