Five registered sex offenders in Simi Valley, California are suing the city over a law that prohibits them from welcoming children into their homes on Halloween night.
NBCLosAngeles.com is reporting that Janice Bellucci, a lawyer and the head of a new advocacy group called “California Reform Sex Offender Laws” has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that Simi Valley’s law violates her clients’ First Amendment rights.
The law, which applies to all 119 registered sex offenders in the city, prohibits offenders from displaying Halloween decorations, answering the door to trick-or-treaters, or having outside lights on after dark on October 31. Registered sex offenders who have been convicted of a crime against a child are also required to post a sign reading, “No candy or treats at this residence.”
Simi Valley councilman and LAPD officer Mike Judge told NBC the law is modeled after similar Halloween laws enforced in other California cities, and is meant to protect children.
“This law was generated by citizens asking the City Council to do something,” Judge said. “And it didn’t seem unreasonable for the City Council to take it up. As far as I’m concerned, our law doesn’t go as far as other laws in the state of California and it still, in our opinion, protects our children a little bit better than not having it.”
Bellucci disagrees and says the sign-posting requirement is “particularly egregious” and likened the restrictions “Jews in Nazi Germany who had to wear the yellow star on their clothing.”
In spite of the high rate of repeat crimes among sex offenders, Bellucci believes they have already “paid their debt to society” and believes the restrictions are unconstitutional.
The public wants the law to stand because of the nature of Halloween and the significant opportunities it affords sex offenders to victimize minors.
Simi Valley City Attorney Marjorie Baxter was quoted in the Ventura County Star as saying: “We thoroughly researched the ordinance and I don’t feel the lawsuit has any merit, and we will defend it vigorously.”
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