Cincinnati sex offenders can hand out candy on Halloween

Should sex offenders be banned from Halloween?

CINCINNATI -- As children from around the Tri-State get ready for the trick-or-treating festivities next week, 9 On Your Side warns parents about the safety concerns of Halloween night.

What has seemed to be a growing concern in some states has led them to create laws banning sex offenders from certain Halloween activities. There are no such laws in most parts of Ohio.

One of the first in the state, the Village of Orwell in Ashtabula County near Cleveland recently passed an ordinance banning sex offenders from answering the door to children trick-or-treating on or around Halloween.

However, the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County do not have any ordinances in motion for Halloween night regarding sex offenders.

“It’s more of a parole issue,” said a Hamilton County Sheriff's deputy. Probation and parole officers will warn sex offenders to not answer the door.

An officer at HCSO said they will have patrol cars monitoring areas to ensure safety during trick-or-treat times.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office said there are about 1,400 registered sex offenders in the county, with 21 sex offenders who have outstanding warrants.

"There definitely should be a law for that [banning sex offenders] because it is so easy for kids to get tempted to take candy or even for the predator to allow the kids to come inside to get the candy," said Krystal Wyatt of Warren County.

In Warren County, if sex offenders are under the supervision of the courts, they will be required to spend the evening in a program with probation officers.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell believes it might be a good idea to change the laws because the system isn't "foolproof."

Let's take a look -- one Ohio measure created to keep sex offenders away from children is the thousand-foot zoning rule. Registered sex offenders are not to live within 1,000 ft. of a school. However, this is a civil – not criminal – law. If a sex offender violates this measure, it’s not a crime and police cannot arrest them.

Just as, on Halloween night, there is no law preventing these offenders from passing out candy and engaging with children.

If a sexually oriented offender has theoretically paid his or her debt to society, the only thing they are required to do by law is register their address. Some of which, don't.

"Statistically speaking it still comes down to the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases where we see our children abused physically sexually this happened as a result of the hands of people they know," said Fornshell.

That's to say, there's a warning out there for parents. Fornshell and other local law enforcement officials advise parents and caregivers to check the register of sex offenders so they can be aware of the sex offenders in their neighborhood. 

You can view the register of sex offenders in your area at the following sites:

HSCO Website

Prosecutor's Website

The Warren Co. Website

Mike DeWine, Attorney General

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Should local legislators come up with laws to keep registered sex offenders from participating in events like trick-or-treating?

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