California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CA RSOL) and a registrant on parole filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging a requirement that registrants on parole post a sign on the front door of their home on Halloween. The requirement is levied by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as a blanket restriction on all registrant parolees in San Diego.
“CDCR’s requirement that all registrant parolees post a sign on the front door of their residence violates the First Amendment because it compels speech,” stated Janice Bellucci, attorney for the plaintiffs. “The sign requirement also places in significant danger the lives of registrants and those with whom they reside.”
According to CDCR, the sign requirement is part of Operation Boo which the department conducts each year on Halloween. Operation Boo has the stated purpose of protecting children as they trick or treat.
“The registrant plaintiff in this case was convicted of a single sex offense before 1985 that did not involve a child. The plaintiff has not committed or been convicted of a sex offense for the past 30 years and yet CDCR is requiring him to post a sign on the front door of his home. This is a solution without a problem,” stated Bellucci.
“CDCR’s sign requirement is based upon myth, not facts. The facts are there are no reports in California of a sexual assault upon a child who goes trick or treating,” stated Bellucci.
In a recent study of sex offender behavior led by renowned expert and PhD psychologist Jill Levenson, “How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters”, Levenson and her colleagues concluded that Halloween prohibitions “suggest that Halloween policies may in fact be targeting a new urban myth similar to past myths warning of tainted treats.” The contents of the study are online at http://sax.sagepub.com/content/21/3/363.abstract.
“CDCR’s sign requirement also ignores the fact established in its own report that sex offenders on parole re-offend at a rate of less than 1 percent,” stated Bellucci. “According to the Outcome Evaluation Report released by CDCR in July 2015, the rate of re-offense is .8 percent.”
According to the lawsuit, CDCR’s Operation Boo Front Door Sign Posting Mandate is arbitrary, motivated by political incentive in response to popular sentiment against Registrants, lends itself to discriminatory enforcement and suppression of the constitutional rights of Registrants and the persons who reside with them, and cannot meet the stringent standards required by the 1st Amendment on restrictions of free speech and association rights, and by the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of Due Process of Law and of Equal Protection of the Law.