Trick-or-treating is a fall favorite across the country. In an effort to keep children safe on the streets, some states including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, have enacted blanket "No Candy" laws that restrict registered sex offenders from passing out candy on Halloween.
No New England state has enacted such targeted laws, though there are general restrictions offenders face, and in Massachusetts, the Office of the Commission of Probation runs several initiatives to monitor registered offenders over the holiday.
"Probation officers team up with local police, they have a list of sex offenders and they go to their homes and knock on doors and make sure they're not opening the doors to children," said Coria Holland, communications director for the Office of the Commissioner of Probation.
The initiative, known as "Lights Out," is run in various districts across the state.
Holland said she did not know of any probation officers from Lawrence District Court participating, but they do notify sex offenders on their case loads to remind them of their terms of probation.
"Letters go out to probationers who are sex offenders asking them not to open their doors to trick-or-treaters," she said. "If their condition of probation is not to interact with children, they are advised not to open their doors and turn on porch lights, or to decorate as to invite children to their doorstep."
"Since this is a holiday for children, we know that children are going to be out in the community so we want to help make the community safe," she said.
In addition, anyone can check the Sex Offender Registry Board database of registered offenders who either live or work in their city or town.
State law requires convicted sex offenders to register with the sex offender board and update their information annually, including any changes to their address. The board then classifies them as Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3. Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are considered to be most at risk of re-offending, and are listed on the online registry.
Parents and guardians should be aware of recent reports that the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry has lost track of more than 1,700 convicted sex offenders.
Information about Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders is also available at local police departments.