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Riverside County limits sex offenders' participation in Halloween

Offenders living in unincorporated areas can't hand out candy and must keep outside lights off during trick-or-treating.

October 19, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

Riverside County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban registered sex offenders from putting up Halloween decorations or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

The measure takes effect immediately.

The state attorney general's office lists 2,584 registered sex offenders residing in Riverside County, but the ban applies only to sex offenders in unincorporated areas. County officials said their records show that there are 3,491 registered sex offenders.

Registered sex offenders will now be banned from answering the door to trick-or-treaters or putting Halloween decorations on their homes between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31 each year.

They will also be prohibited from leaving on any external lights between 5 and 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night.

Supervisor Jeff Stone, who introduced the ordinance, said that the cities of Orange and San Jacinto already have similar measures in place.

The Murrieta Police Department has sent out yearly warnings to sex offenders convicted of crimes against children.

"To avoid any unnecessary allegations of impropriety with minors, I strongly suggest you protect yourself by voluntarily refraining from interacting with the children during the trick-or-treat holiday," the letter from Murrieta Police Chief Mark Wright said last year.

The city of Perris voted down a similar proposal after concerns about possible civil rights violations were raised.

Riverside County spokesman Ray Smith said the county is not planning to send notices to sex offenders but said that they will be notified in routine contacts with law enforcement in the coming days.

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