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CA RSOL Challenges Halloween Sign Requirement in Federal Court [updated with complaint]

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.

Complaint – Conformed – Oct 2015

Join the discussion

  1. Joe

    So this person committed a sex offense 30 years ago, none since, and is currently on parole for a non-sex offense? And is required to put a sign on his front door making reference to the 30-year old conviction?

    Am I understanding this correctly? Or am I in the wrong movie? Go, CA RSOL!!!!

  2. Anonymous

    Does anybody know if this new rule applies to all registrant parolee’s in California, or just those in San Diego county? I am on parole in Alameda County and have not heard of this new restriction for halloween.

    • Janice Bellucci

      As of today, we are only certain that San Diego County is requiring parolees to post signs. If others have proof that this requirement is being levied in their area, please let us know as it is possible to amend the complaint to include additional locations.

  3. G4Change

    Since this is a lawsuit filed in federal court, can registrants from other states which have similar laws join this lawsuit?
    If not, could the results of this case (if favorable to registrants) be applied in other states?
    Or, would a separate lawsuit be required?

    • commenter1

      My understanding is that a separate lawsuit would need to be filed in federal court to challenge the laws in individual states however the ruling in this California case may be referenced in that case and could hurt or help depending on its outcome. I believe that each federal court district works somewhat independently and may rule differently so if your state is an a different district your outcome could be different. Janice probably has more experience/knowledge on this with her background as an attorney and could better advise you on this.

  4. Irene Cardenas

    Do you have a link to the complaint filed?

    • Janice Bellucci

      If anyone wants a copy of this complaint, please contact me directly via E-mail at jmbellucci@aol.com. I am also willing to provide the 2013 decision of a federal judge ruling that a similar sign requirement in the City of Simi Valley violated the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

  5. W

    Operation Boo is a big joke inspired by ignorant hysteria. In my opinion, CDCR is a corrupt organization that should be ashamed of its fear-mongering tactics, void of logic, intended only to perpetuate its tyrannic power. When people say “Boo,” it’s almost always in jest to inspire fright without any real danger. In this case, the joke is on the masses of people that believe CDCR’s manipulative agenda. And yes, can we see a copy of the complaint?

  6. Eugene Darden

    I want to know what I could do to help get the word out, and let our reg family in San Diego it time to keep fighting for what is right. Last year for the homeless they made you put it on your tent,and car,or sleeping bag.and it was 6-6, now its 5-5,and if you homeless you have to stay there,what about restroom.

    • Timmr

      Sounds like they want you to pee in the bushes and be able to give you another sex offense charge. My God, how do you cope with such bureaucratic indifference to your legitimate needs?

    • Janice Bellucci

      Please call me, Eugene, to discuss your specific circumstances. You and the others you describe may also have standing in a lawsuit challenging CDCR and its restrictions.

  7. New Person

    Isn’t this sign a form of shaming? You know, the one the SCOTUS said doesn’t exist today?

  8. I was civilly committed

    OPERATION BOO NO LONGER NEEDED

    The candy is out of the bag. Halloween and sex offenders have merged like caramel and chocolate. The mystique of the one night where our children search for danger and live vicariously through the costume they wear, has added the worst evil our children could ever face; a sex offender opening the door and saying to little Debbie, “Come inside and take all the candy you want.” Without saying it, this is the image the entire police force in California wants the community to believe will happen regarding the group they have labeled sex offenders.

    Twenty-one years ago, a multi-department, multi-agency idea was born from CDCR, “Operation Boo!” Its stated goal was to protect children who go out on Halloween from being attacked by sex offenders. At the time, it had merit, twenty-one years ago our communities did not have the internet, no Megan’s website, and no GPS monitoring; you did not know who lived in the house on the corner. But all that has changed. Communities have the ability to easily get detailed (but not current or accurate) data about sex offenders anywhere through Megan’s website, specifically designed to provide this information.

    This raises serious questions about the purpose of this operation today.

    If you watch news report showing the officers participating in Operation Boo, they are prepared to engage in a gun battle, which raises a red flag. Before this operation is carried out, these officers have researched who they know are high risk, or not complying with their Parole Agent, and they know who has not registered. That means they already suspect they have a weapon or have drugs, however, instead of apprehending these high risk offenders as soon as possible, they wait until this one night. What if the night before Halloween the offender uses the gun on my family? Are the officers who claim they are concerned about children allowing a dangerous person with a gun to keep that weapon one more day? Or, knowing an offender has drugs or sells drugs; they wait one more day and allow someone’s child to be at risk of being given drugs? Is this police operation really being done to protect our children, or is this a publicity stunt designed to give the community a false sense of security?

    The offenders who are targeted are being monitored by a Parole Agent. What this operation tells me, is this department is ineffective. It is the responsibility of the DAPO; Parole Agents to know where these offenders are at all times. They are wearing GPS monitors, the state’s multi-million dollar solution to stop offenders from getting intentionally lost. As soon as an offender removes the monitor a signal is sent and the Parole Agent should react. The offending individual should be picked up and taken into custody. Instead Operation Boo tells us the DAPO has offenders who they cannot find and they need this inter-agency mob to go out and find them. That sounds like a department that is not performing its job effectively. What would happen in your business if a group of employees were not doing their job?

    There is absolutely no reason to continue this type of program with the technology available. There is no reason to authorize excess overtime to perform the function of the Parole Agent in charge of that Parolee. There is no reason to publicize this event as if they are chasing a wild animal, and then filming these events to air on the news later, with the intent of showing the community the wonderful job they are doing to catch a dangerous felon and protect us. What they should be showing is the Parole Agent who cannot find one of his Parolees being fired.

    Operation Boo is only one of many programs the CCPOA, CDCR, MARSHALL’S, STATE POLICE, CITY POLICE, PAROLE AGENTS, and all the other police affiliated agencies have designed to give the community the belief they are diligently doing all of this work (while being handsomely paid) to protect everyone. Our understanding of what Operation Boo actually is, B-Building, O-Officer, O-Overtime.

    The idea that an organization has this kind of political power is what should frighten us. At any time, the group you belong to could become the next target. So for next Halloween, the signs needed on the majority of doors in your neighborhood will include all of these offenders, sex, burglary, robbery, murder, rape, kidnapping, drunk drivers, drug addicts, gangs, wife beaters, liars, tax evaders, and more. Halloween will not be needed because there will be so few homes for our children to knock on. Boo Hoo…

    • Joe

      That Operation Boo is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt (in addition to an expensive overtime grab) is immediately apparent by its media ride-along opportunity.

      http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/operation-boo-media-component.html

      “Official Media Ride-along forms are required to be submitted on a first come, first served basis for journalists who wish to be embedded with the crews on Halloween night. (Media advisory will follow.) The *tours* will be designed to include the Transient Sex-Offender Curfew Sites (where available) or transient sex-offender GPS tracking compliance checks. The tour will also include traditional compliance checks.

      Nothing short of a trip to the zoo or a visit to the freak show. To sell this as a public safety measure is an insult to any sane person’s intelligence.

      • David Kennerly

        A friend of mine who, upon being released onto parole, some 25 years ago, met his parole agent from hell. She devised an elaborate and absurd list of restrictions he would be made to abide by, including that he not possess more than one candy bar in his home at a time. On a subsequent search, she discovered a single candy bar in his kitchen as well as a single candy bar wrapper in his trash. On that basis, she said that she was going to violate him. He explained that he had not bought the 2nd candy bar until after he had already eaten the first (the wrapper in the trash). No matter, she announced, he would be violated for this infraction but, crucially, she didn’t take him into custody at that moment but said he would have to report to her office the next day for processing and return to San Quentin. His response? After she left, he packed his belongings and got on a plane to Florida, where his family lived. California was unsuccessful in getting him extradited back to California. They agreed to transfer his parole to Florida. Despite the fact that Florida’s laws were even tougher, in some respects, than California’s, he was not subject to those tougher conditions (this included adopting a ‘happy-camper’ attitude towards treatment). He was the only person in that treatment group therapy who had no consequences for displaying his independence. Plus, he got to have as many candy bars as he wanted.

  9. John

    New York City and the state have ludicrous hysteria over Halloween. When I was on probation, 5 of those clowns came into my apartment and of course they are always disappointed they don’t find 100 kids tied up but they did find a 3” diameter bowl of mints on the dining table which they confiscated with much ceremony pandering to their pathetic sense of self importance.

    The sad fact is that ALL of them including the slimy politicians would never actually go anywhere like orphanages, hospitals and homeless shelters to physically help children. Kids don’t vote and those places don’t make for a good photo-op.

  10. Operation Boo = Publicity Stunt = So True

    Operation Boo is absolutely a cheap publicity stunt. Scam Artist Jeffrey Beard and his Fraudster minions at the California Department of Corruption and Retribution (CDCR) are liars who exploit a disfavored minority (felons, sex offenders) to further their oppressive power as to maintain and expand CDCR’s vested interests. CDCR’s vested interest remain in maintaining and expanding its budget, as to ensure more hiring — leading to more promotion, salary, and increase of handsome benefits and pension within CDCR. Operation Boo serves as one vehicle to help the public perceive CDCR in ostensibly positive light so that people are less likely to protest the constitutional oppression — and expansion — of CDCR. Very shrewd, though dirty, political tactic by CDCR’s Jeffrey Beard.

  11. CDCR Held Me In Captivity

    From prison to parole, CDCR were my captors. They reduced me to a number, treated me like an animal caged in a cell, kept me in filthy conditions, and fed me the lowest quality of meals. CDCR guards held me in captivity seeing me only as a number, dressed in orange (then later in blue), deserving to have my liberty and dignity stripped from me. Those guards, in their minds, rationalized permission to treat those in captivity with less respect than one not in the confines of CDCR’s mass incarceration machine. I have no respect for a person who decides to sell their soul, for the excuse of a job and/or paycheck, to carry out the directives of CDCR. Whether it be the CDCR employee, or the contracted employee working under a CDCR contract, the employee contributes to the degradation of our constitutional rights that differentiate the USA from other countries. I must not respect CDCR and its contracted employees who perform duties that violate Rights. They are all frauds for participating in oppressive methods.

    • Simon, Psy.D

      The mandatory sex offender “treatment” programs that contract under CDCR are the worst. CDCR contracted psychologists and therapists are sellouts to the mental health profession. They have forgone tenants of confidentiality and trust in favor of unethical practices. Polygraph tests and unfeathered disclosure to parole officers are not treatment, but abusive false advertisement (especially when one is forced to agree with a ‘treatment’ program’s terms under threat of parole revocation). Polygraph tests are not scientific. And parole officers do not have the client’s overall mental health as their main concern. Many people are railroaded of their God-given constitutional rights. The people that carry out the duties of CDCR under the guise of treatment are a shame to the field of Psychology. The fact that CDCR has forced mental health professionals to prostitute themselves to CDCR’s perverted tactics only prove the perverse nature of the pimp, who only seeks to exploit, that is CDCR.

  12. Craig

    It is great that this will be challenged, the madness has to stop. I know when I was on probation the county next to mine had all people on probation or parole every Halloween go to the county jail and sit for 3 hours until after 9pm, which must be the time all of them changed back to being normal. My county refused to do this and we never had restrictions placed on us on the creepy Halloween night.

    Nether did anyone in our area ever commit a offense on that night, how could that be?

    These lawmakers have all gone insane and the only way to stop them is hit them in the pocket book. On another note we had one person try to transfer to our county years ago, the county she was transferring from requested that they be made to place a sign in their front yard stating she was a sex offender, my county refused the transfer because they were not willing to enforce the sign order. So in a nut shell some people do understand that these laws are not helpful. Another donation is on the way from me to your state, keep the good work up CARSOL.

  13. Tobin's Tools

    CDCR uses multi-million dollar sex offender “treatment” contracts to corrupt psychologists and therapists to perform CDCR’s dirty work. The psychologists/therapists have prostituted themselves and have soldout to the tenants of their profession because of above average pay and promotional opportunity. Who can blame them? Though they sacrifice tenants of confidentiality and trust so allegedly important to their profession, they have been indoctrinated into the Containment Model propaganda pedaled by Tom Tobin and CDCR. (Hey… the polygraph is validated science, right?) It’s popular for CDCR. And it’s a cash cow for Tom Tobin and his minions. Forget the fact that there is no evidence supporting effectiveness of sex offender laws. No one cares. Everyone just seems to act on emotion. CDCR is a corrupt system operated by first-degree fraudster shysters. Ponzi, Madoff, and Goldman Sachs would be proud of the deceptive trickery performed by Tom Tobin and CDCR. May the truth ultimately prevail.

    • Tom's erstwhile test subject

      I had the misfortune, several decades ago, of being one of Tom’s ‘captivated’ test subjects at the hilariously-named “Center for Special Problems” ‘treatment’ facility in San Francisco. I was a short-lived subject, however, since I quickly emerged as an extraordinarily ‘entrenched’ client who, as it turned out, was so entrenched that I was quickly evacuated from the group therapy setting lest I contaminate all of the other, far-less entrenched, individuals whose presence was also compelled by law.

      At a special all-staff-plus-me meeting held immediately in the aftermath of my hurried extrication from the group therapy setting, I posited that I had been removed simply because I posed such a risk of contamination to the other, more docile, subjects. To this, Tom and the other clinicians vigorously nodded their heads in affirmation. Tobin, who had taken the lead in this meeting, confirmed that my presence constituted a danger to others in treatment and assured me that I would never again find myself in such a group dynamic at his facility.

      It also turned out that one of the therapy groups’ more amenable-to-treatment members had complained bitterly that my words had induced in him particularly intolerable levels of cognitive dissonance that threatened to compromise his emerging, but delicate, therapeutized state of innocuousness and total social compliance.

      It is ironic, however, that the Tom Tobin of that time should now be one of the more reasonable advisers to the State of California in its evolving regard for sex offenders. I doubt that his positions have changed all that much it’s just that the societal zeitgeist has gotten that much worse. He now seems relatively sane in contrast, which is not saying much.

      Bonus question: What’s worse than being an entrenched client? An entrenched client who refuses to pay his bill.

      • Tobin's Tools

        LMAO @ Center for Special Problems. Truly hilariously named. Perhaps the center’s name was inspired by Tom Tobin’s “special problem:” Greed. Greed for power. Greed for control (“…taken the lead in the meeting”). Greed for money. Tobin and his multi-million dollar CDCR contract. Droves of his for-profit company’s (Sharper Future’s) minions, operating under the auspices of “therapist,” “psychologist,” and “clinician,” ready to pounce on the sex offender who already paid a high price for a mistake not to be repeated. Some seem down-to-earth and empathic at Sharper Future; but they have sold their souls to CDCR policies. Tobin’s Sharper Future minions no longer represent their mental health profession, but are essentially a parole officer without a badge and/or gun whose testimony can determine a human being’s liberty. A lot of dirty, constitutionally suspect, work is done at Sharper Future. When will the COVERT abuse, operating under the official title of sex offender “treatment,” end? Someone stop Tom Tobin!

        • David Kennerly

          Having already stated that Tom Tobin and I once detested one another (and still do, I’m certain) it must also be said that Tom is on the California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) and, while there, has been very critical of the sex offender post-conviction laws which impose residency and presence restrictions, lifetime registration as well as the online registry, I believe. He and the rest of the Board proposed a tiered registry which Tom Ammiano (a guy who was once a spotting partner of mine at the SF “Y”) introduced to the Legislature in the last several years but that died for lack of any significant support.

          So, while I certainly see him in the opposition, in a general sense, he has emerged as a moderate who is critical of the extremist laws.

          So, I must give credit where credit is due.

          That’s how bad things have gotten that Tom Tobin now seems reasonable and relatively enlightened.

          He was a stone-cold inquisitioner when I knew him.

          I imagine that the sex offender ‘treatment’ community of therapists has developed a schism within its ranks whereas it once appeared to be pretty uniformly hysterical and shrill.

          Oh, one quick anecdote: I emailed Tom (under a pseudonymous persona) some years back to ask him about defense experts for a friend of mine in Coalinga. His sole advice was that my friend would never get out unless he joined the treatment program there. My friend never did but within a year or so, he did indeed get out, completely free. So there, Tom!

    • cathy

      apparently my boyfriend is in a program owned by tom tobin … it’s called sharper future. the program like you said is only an extension of parole and we dont consider it a treatment program because a REAL treatment program does not aim to incriminate. they had him sign more of his rights away and he has to take lie detector exam with what sounds like a complete sleezebag in it to scare and make a buck from tom tobin’s pyramid scheme. from what i’ve been reading, tom tobin is a fraud. i mean… what type of doctor or treatment specialist would participate in harassing and violating the rights of others? my boyfriend made a mistake. but why does sharper future add even more stress? it looks to me sharper future only exist for tom tobin to make a fortune from taxes. when my bf describes his sessions, sounds like the treatment specialists are so trigger happy to report even small condition violations like alcohol drinking or maybe accidentally looking at porn. he already served his time!

  14. George

    Manufacturing Fear: Halloween Laws for Sex Offenders

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emilyhorowitz/manufacturing-fear-hallow_b_4135793.html

    Google finds many, many examples like this with these key words.

    is halloween dangerous for children? sex offender

  15. George

    I found a confession (while torified).

    “Transient Sex Offender Monitoring

    “Since a significant number of sex-offenders are also homeless, special centers will be set up for Halloween Night in most regions of the state. Sex-offenders will have to report to these Transient Sex-offender Curfew Centers to abide by the Halloween night curfew under the watchful eye of law enforcement officers.”

    http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Parole/operation-boo-public-component.html

    • New Person

      Report to centers under curfew hours?

      Is it me or does internment camps come to mind when I read this? What if they don’t report? Will they be found guilty of a crime? I mean they are quoting their transgressions for all to see that runs akin to the Japanese internment camps – to which was found unconstitutional, IIRC.

      Shouldn’t this be a civil rights litigation, especially if they’re no longer under custody?

      • bumblebee

        Oh,they would just love to put them in internment camps–for profit! But because of that whole inconvenient WWII thing that happened, I guess they will have to settle for the next best thing.

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