'Trick No Treat' for Area's Registered Sex Offenders

As Halloween approaches, know the rules your area's registered sex offenders are required to follow.

Patch wants to help parents keep their kids safe this Halloween. As the bewitching hour nears, become familiar with regulations regarding registered sex offenders in your area.

Rules for Halloween

In July 2005, a new state law was passed barring registered sex offenders from participating in any holiday event involving children, including Halloween. This same law also prohibits sex offenders from dressing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

During Halloween, sex offenders are not allowed to distribute candy to children; however, the law does give leeway to sex offenders who are parents or legal guardians of children under age 18 living in the home. While those sex offenders are still barred from handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, other household members can participate in Halloween activities.

To avoid violating the law, registered sex offenders often are advised by police to keep porch lights turned off to avoid attracting children on Halloween and to not answer the door. Registered sex offenders also are prohibited from leaving the house dressed in costumes.

"They can wear a costume if they are home," Master Sgt. Isiah Vega, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police told Patch last year. "But if they leave the house in costume, it's considered participating in a holiday event involving children."

Registered sex offenders who break the rules may be subject to fines or revocation of their parole or probation.

Who Needs to Register?

Persons convicted of misdemeanor or felony sex crimes involving children under age 18 as well as adult victims are required to register their addresses with the local law enforcement agency in the communities where they reside once a year, under the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act. The same rules apply to out-of-state sex offenders who move to or work in Illinois, as well as out-of-state students attending a state college or university.

The Illinois State Police maintain a detailed Sex Offender Registry of all of the state's registered sex offenders that is available to the public. There, citizens can look up and find the registered sex offenders living in their own communities. Local police departments throughout the state feed information about the individual sex offenders registered in their jurisdictions to the state database.

Similar requirements for registration are also in effect for sex crimes committed against adults — especially adults with disabilities.

A sex offender must register annually in person at the local police department for the duration of the required 10-year registration period. 

In addition, registered sex offenders are prohibited from residing within 500 feet of a school, daycare center, youth center or other facility catering to children under age 18.

A Safe Halloween

A representative for the Cook County Sheriff's Office said that the department will be sending out a letter ordering sex offenders to report to five districts where they will view a 20-minute, educational video detailing their responsibilities and requirements under the law, such as not living with 500 feet of a school, no social networking, and regularly updating their home address.

Such measures are pursuant to a fairly new sex offender regulation that prohibits sex offenders from taking part in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Vega said parents can do their part to ensure a safe Halloween for their children by visiting the Illinois Sex Offender Registry to identify registered sex offenders in their neighborhood, and by not allowing children or teens to trick-or-treat alone.

For additional Halloween safety tips, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.

Check back later this month for a map detailing where registered sex offenders live in your area.

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Deb Melchert October 16, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Rudy101, I was referring to the concern that virtually every community has registered sex offenders. And that should be a concern to anyone with children. I can win the lottery too, but I doubt it will happen. What's wrong with trying to tell parents to be careful? It's not like the article is advocating burning their houses down. Not sure who or what you mean by "you people" and your comment about "non-existent dangers" is stunning. Are you saying that you think that a registered sex offender is not a possible danger to children? Since the registry is from law enforcement, there is no way the average citizen can "use" it for anything except to look up names & addresses of offenders in their community. That is information some of us think is important. . Here's what I found on the IL Sex Offender site: "# Is it a violation of Illinois law for a sex offender to be on a social networking website such as Facebook or MySpace? Illinois laws says a person who commits a sex offense on or after January 1, 2010 and is convicted of this offense on or after January 1, 2010 must refrain from accessing or using a social networking website while on probation, parole or mandatory supervised release." The link below gives you the details on the new laws that went into effect in July of 2005. The way I read it, a registered sex offender is not allowed to hand out candy on Halloween. http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/press05/7.10.05.htm
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Deb? EVERYONE is a possible danger. You start on this crusade about who is dangerous and who isn't and all you use is some list given to you from the government, you end up with a bloated list filled with people who ARE NOT dangerous. Am I saying that there are people on the list who are not dangerous to children? YES. Am I saying there are people on the list who ARE dangerous to children? YES. The roll of government is to protect the public. THAT is limited ONLY in the respect that it must be clear WHO is a danger. The registry doesn't do that to any basic standards. It is legislatively created. That flies in the face of fairness. That being what it is, the RIGHT to be a part of a community goes ahead of what some legislature says, that hasn't been shown. A conviction, standing alone, that was already served is NOT enough to banish a person from the community for a lifetime or for any time for that matter.
Deb Melchert October 16, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Rudy, you are correct. It's not just those on the list that are a danger to children or anyone else for that matter. The link I posted has a section that stated the state was considering lifetime parole for some offenders. I am quite sure some require it and pray that some don't. The laws are what they are and those of us posting here did not make them. Until the govt has some way of positively identifying and clarifying who is dangerous and who is not, I'm sorry, but I don't think it's wrong if we are leery of someone on this list. Again, I'm not out with a bullhorn running people out of town, but as a parent and grandparent, I think it's prudent to be alert and aware of ANY POSSIBLE danger to our kids. If you reread my original post, my concern was with the comments about the article being "duplicated" and just because something hasn't happened, doesn't mean it won't. Doesn't mean it will either, but again, I'd rather error on the side of caution when my children are involved.
TP Resident October 16, 2011 at 05:18 PM
@Rudy 101 you seem to have first hand experience with this since you are taking such offense to the article and law. Everybody should be aware of this list and stay away from these homes! I don't care, to me everybody on that list is a danger! They found it to be okay to commit such a terrible crime to an innocent child they deserve to be banished.
Carrie Frillman October 16, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Hi Shelomith. Thank you for your input. No, this is not recycled journalism. It's shared coverage of an important topic. Lorraine is the editor in Oak Lawn. When solid stories that pertain to our areas are written by fellow editors, we share them with readers on our own Patch sites. Why would I spend time gathering the same information when someone else already did? My job is to provide you with content that is relevant to your daily life. While it may be true that there is no recorded incident of a child being molested on Halloween in your area, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened somewhere else and certainly doesn't mean that it will never happen. Wouldn't you rather be prepared to act than react? Let's be intelligent about this.
Shelomith Stow October 16, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Deb, you sound like you have a great deal of common sense, and I guess I don't know how Patch works. If I was being petty in regards to the duplication, then I'll untwist my knickers and apologize. I do want you to think about one thing though. Using the most generous numbers possible, 10% or less of child sexual molestations are committed by registered sex offenders (the actual most recent numbers from DOJ put it at probably less than 1%, but for the sake of argument, we'll go with 10%. The remaining 90 or higher percentage are individuals not on the registry, most of them being family members and family acquaintances of the children they molest. The registry, its restrictions, its laws, its enforcement, take 100% of the resources, financial and manpower, allotted to prevent child sexual abuse. That means that 100% of money, time, and effort is expended on, at the very most, 10% of the potential molesters of potential victims? What about the other 90% of the victims? There are programs that could be implemented in schools and communities that would have a large impact on breaking the cycle of sexual abuse of children. Virtually no one has heard of them. Virtually no community has them. Why not? For one, there's no money left. For another, politicians get in office and stay in office by jumping on the "tough on sex offender" bandwagon and passing laws, not by implementing programs. I just want someone to care about the 90+ % of children being sexually abused daily.
Deb Melchert October 16, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Deb Melchert October 16, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Shelomith, I do understand your concern and agree with you. Sadly, if you saw the article in the Times today about IL being such a deadbeat state and withholding payments due to 100's of vendors to finance the state government, we won't be seeing any new programs in our lifetimes. Our government is only concerned about furthering their terms in office and saddling us with a debt that our grandkids will probably still be paying for. Yesterdays news featured an article on a 90 year old man sentenced to 6 years for molesting 2 young boys! Yes, 90 years old. I'd tell you what I think should be done to molesters, but my post would be deleted......................See Carrie, I'm being a good girl!
Local Citizen October 16, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Carrie Frillman October 16, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Hahaha! I appreciate your will power ;)
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Well, you believe ALL the people on the list committed a terrible crime on an innocent child. Well, that's not true at all. Is there ANY reason you have to avoid ALL the homes on the sex offender registry list? I know, you'll figure it out, you just KNOW to avoid the homes because there IS a list, and you have to do SOMETHING with that list.
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Let me put it THIS way so all you people understand. UNTIL they actually go through the list and find out who is and who isn't dangerous? It is better if there is NO LIST. Why? Because who could call themselves a free country, in any stretch of the imagination when a country puts out a list of people that are dangerous, but you don't have to be dangerous to be on this list????? So, to avoid the list is the BEST thing to do. That you don't have suffer the indignity of being despotic.
Shelomith Stow October 16, 2011 at 08:17 PM
You won't see new programs, but you will continue to see hundreds of thousands of dollars sunk into the rabbit hole of the registry. Is Illinois AWA compliant? If so, then it will be millions. I know that you believe it is money well spent while I believe that it is money thrown away. The DOJ has said that approximately 5% of those on the registry need to be there. If the other 95%, even just the first time offenders of the 95%, were given their sentences, their fines, their treatment programs, their probation, and then when it was done, they were able to start over having the option to live a decent life like any other person convicted of any other crime; and the registry, law enforcement only, not public, was reserved for the repeat offender and those legitimately at high risk to offend, there would be money and enough for worthwhile programs.
TP Resident October 16, 2011 at 08:28 PM
@Rudy101 It is sad that somebody would think that everybody on that list is not dangerous! They are dangerous weather it is physical or mental they are a danger to children!
Shelomith Stow October 16, 2011 at 08:35 PM
"The rates of non-familial sex crimes against children under the age of 12 are no higher during the Halloween season than at any other times of the year, according to a study published in the September issue of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment the official journal of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (published by SAGE). The findings raise questions about the wisdom of law enforcement practices aimed at dealing with a problem that does not appear to exist." (http://www.physorg.com/news175442514.html) " Fear and hype notwithstanding, there is not one single case on record of a child being sexually molested by a registered sex offender while trick-or-treating on Halloween." (http://forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com/2007/10/beware-halloween-bogeyman.html) "Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children...said that there is no evidence of higher incidence of sex offenses against children on Halloween."
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 08:35 PM
NO. That is not true at all. In fact, the courts ruled, specifically, one doesn't have to be dangerous to be on the list. The list is ONLY a list of convictions. BUT you bring out something very important. It is common knowledge that laws are being passed against registered offenders BECAUSE they are dangerous. There is a contradiction here. A contradiction that cannot stand. The registry is ONLY punitive. That being the case, the ex-post faco clause of the U.S. Constitution is invoked AND your laws no longer have to be followed.
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 08:41 PM
But all they need is a rational argument. It doesn't have to be a right argument, but a rational argument. Is the world flat? I can give a rational argument on that it is. Does that make it true? Not to someone who will not look at all the evidence beyond his scope of vision. There are no limits on the banishment uses of the registry. NONE. Even if there is no problem to be solved, a registered sex offender can't have ANY interest in anything that has to do with community. His mere presence is what is not wanted. The idea that the mere presence can be connected in any tenuous way to protection of the children will be used to justify the banishment.
TP Resident October 16, 2011 at 09:08 PM
@Rudy101 don't do the crime if you can't do the time and yes a sex assault convection has a lifetime of scrutiny and banishment as well it should if one commits a crime such as this against a child!
Carrie Frillman October 16, 2011 at 09:16 PM
This is a really interesting argument Shelomith. It, to me, brings us to the issue of proactive versus reactive policing. Because there doesn't seem to be an overt problem involving sex offenders around Halloween time, should police focus on reacting to other, more obvious issues? It's a tough call. Do the given statistics not show a change because law enforcement agencies ARE proactive when it comes to sex offenders during this time of year? We may never know ...
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 09:17 PM
ahhh, no a conviction doesn't have the punishment of lifetime of scrutiny and banishment. THAT has to be in what is called, a judgment of conviction, which spells out the punishment. If there isn't one that exists, that spells out lifetime of scrutiny and banishment, then I guess your laws are just plain illegal. It doesn't matter of what is should, could, or would be. It is what it is. Sorry.
Rudy101 October 16, 2011 at 09:22 PM
The issue is, you don't want to know, Carrie. Because THEN the laws have to be taken down, and THAT is NOT a part of the debate. The power is there. Legislatures have the power to deny community access to ANYONE they believe is a danger. All they need is a list. That power, that NEW power, will take away any semblance that the U.S. is a free country. 3 branches of government. They have 3 branches of government to protect liberty. The registry is extra-judicial. It goes around the judicial branch of government.
Shelomith Stow October 16, 2011 at 09:36 PM
There are those on the list who were falsely accused; there are those whose "crime" was a consensual teen relationship, quite a few or whom are now married to each other. And then there are the children, as young as 9, on the registry for normal childhood curiosity and play. No, they are not all dangerous. As I stated before, our Dept. of Justice has set the percentage of those who are actually dangerous at between 5 and 6 %. And as far as being a danger to children, there are many, many offenses totally unrelated to children, some not even related to sexual activity, that are registerable offenses. Remember those generalizations; they are almost always incorrect. And, even if they were all dangerous, what is it about putting their names on public display, making it almost impossible for them to get a job, find decent housing, and successfully integrate into the community that you think will make them less dangerous?
Julie Shaunnessey October 17, 2011 at 03:19 AM
I have to be perfectly honest, I have never checked the list of sex offenders in regards to my children's trick or treating. It actually never crossed my mind. They are both teens now and have "survived" the trick or treat years! LOL Of course there was the usual picking through the candy and checking for razor blades, but I never had a fear of them being pulled into a house by someone on the list. They were always with an adult or with other kids when they got older and I do understand there are some dangerous people out there not on the list. All we can do as parents is to do the best we can to protect our children and others in our neighborhoods. We need to get the word out to our neighbors if there is any suspicious activities going on and always keep your eyes open! Have a great day everyone!
Carrie Frillman October 17, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Some great points, Julie. I don't think my parents ever worried much about it either. Alas, my job is to keep you all "in the know" so you can be armed with information. What you choose to do with it is up to you!
Julie Shaunnessey October 17, 2011 at 05:44 AM
Great point Carrie! We do need to stay in the now. We are very fortunate to have you and the patch to help us in our everday lives to survive!!! U have spread the word to many friends about the Patch, i told them if you want neighborhood info look it up on the patch! Thanks for all you do! That goes to everyone!
TP Mom October 20, 2011 at 12:28 PM
People who constantly lobby for the rights of the criminals make me ill. Yes, the system is not perfect, and there are bound to be people who've been falsely accused, or it was a consensual teen relationship (still illegal in the eyes of the law) but they are the exception, not the rule. Data has proven there is little rehabilitation for sex offenders, and as a parent, I appreciate the registry and aim to protect my children, not lobby for the rights of criminals. It will tell you right there what their crime was and the age of the victim at the victim at the time. And I have never, incidentally, seen a child of 9 registered as an offender.
Rudy101 October 20, 2011 at 01:08 PM
You misunderstand how justice operates. YOU DON'T GET TO HAVE ANY INJUSTICE, built in. Why? Because of the RIGHTS of INDIVIDUALS. You want mass justice? Go to any despotic, communist or totalitarian government. They don't like an independent judiciary. Rights of criminals? You should read the U.S. Constitution and the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th amendments. They are all about the rights of criminals. NO DOUBLE PUNISHMENTS. You want to set up a police State without ANY safety valves? You will only end up looking stupid!
Rudy101 October 20, 2011 at 01:15 PM
What they choose to do with this information is the reason that information is going BACK to simply being a public record; instead of information BLARED from any and all avenues that anyone can think up. And Carrie? You just don't remember. Of course your parents were worried. YOU just weren't worried. You weren't concerned with poison in your candy, or razor blades in the apples. Your parents were. Was there ever poison in pixie stixs? Hardly. Was there stories every year about the fear? OH YES. You have denied people participation in the community based upon a fear that NEVER happens. Your law means NOTHING because it is based upon an overblown threat that the registry supposedly presents. The law is purely based upon a manufactured fear. The new uses for the registry which is always evolving is the main reason why your registry can be fled from in any way possible.
IL Citizen October 20, 2011 at 10:49 PM
It's a shame that people who stand up for the rights of criminals, including sex offenders, makes you ill. I hope that someday your child, grandchild, niece/nephew doesn't end up on the sex offender registry. Research supports therapy as a very good method of reducing recidivism. Also, registered sex offenders have a much lower re-offense rate than is commonly thought. The registry, as it stands, is pretty useless as a tool to determine who poses a threat and who doesn't. It may list age of the offender, but sometimes that age is not at the time of the offense but rather the age at the time of conviction. For someone in their 30s, 40s, or so, this is not that big of a deal. But for someone who committed their offense at 18, being listed as age 20 does make a difference. As for the offense itself, do you know what the offense listed actually means? How many in the general public would know this without doing research? Probably not many. For instance, do you know what the crime is for those listed with "criminal sexual abuse" or "criminal sexual abuse/force"? These are the offenses for someone in a consensual teen relationship. The registry does not differentiate between consensual and non-consensual situations. Another thing you might not know is that someone who is listed as a "sexual predator" might not have had any contact, physical or otherwise, with their victim nor committed a violent act. Keep this in mind next time you look someone up on the registry.
grumpy gramps October 27, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Carrie - I recently came across a reputable study showing that sex offender recidivism actually increased after the registry became public. At this particular moment, I am not able to put my fingers on it and I don't have the time to look, but I found it on Google, so if you are really interested beyond your narrow journalistic misrepresentations you should have no problem finding it. Also, to the person who says that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated, they are totally wrong. First of all, not all child sex offenders can be defined as pedophiles. A pedophile is someone who has an overwhelming, uncontrollable desire for children BELOW the age of puberty. For many of these, the chance of rehabilitation is low. However, just because a person is convicted of a sex offense against a child below the age of puberty that does not make them a pedophile anymore than drinking a glass of wine makes a person an alcoholic. Deb Melchert...when I read the link that you gave, it is very, very clear that the only persons prohibited from distributing candy on Halloween or banned from social networks are sex offenders who are on "paper", i.e., probation or parole. This is very clear.


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