The signs include “Warning!” and “No trick-or-treat at this address!!”
“As sheriff, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of your children. This Halloween, my office has placed signs in front of every registered sex offender’s house to notify the public that it’s a house to avoid,” Butts County Sheriff Gary Long said in a statement.
Long cited state law 41-1-12-i(5), saying the sheriff shall inform the public of the presence of sexual offenders in each community.
“Georgia law forbids registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween, to include decorations on their property. With the Halloween on the square not taking place this year, I fully expect the neighborhoods to be very active with children trick-or-treating,” Long added.
“Make sure to avoid houses, which are marked with the attached posted signs in front of their residents. I hope you and your children have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. It is an honor and privilege to serve as your sheriff,” he said.
The reaction to the signs was mixed, with some supporting the move but others questioning it.
“Legal challenges are coming to this,” wrote one Facebook user.
“I know within the state of Michigan a federal circuit court judge ruled that it was a violation of a person’s rights on many levels not to mention a continuous punishing at a malicious level for those that have paid for their actions and are no longer on parole or probation or under control of the court system,” added another.
“Seeing as how registered sex offenders usually are not to be around children to begin with, a sign letting the children know where not to go is not a horrible thought,” added another user. “We as adults use signs to tell us where to go and not go. This seems like a good idea to me.”
‘Not in the Business of Making Them Happy’
Others criticized Long, such as one woman who said her husband is on the sex offender registry list but noted it was for a relationship he had with an underage woman back when he was 20 years old.
“There’s so many levels,” she told 11 Alive. “There’s such a gray area of, this one did this and this one did that, but yet they happen to be treated all the same.”
But Long told the broadcaster he wasn’t backing down.
“There are some sex offenders that are not happy,” Long said. “But I’m not in the business of making them happy. I’m in the business of keeping safe communities and making sure that our children are protected.”