A California judge has ruled that forcing sex offenders to post a sign on Halloween reading “We do not participate in trick or treating” violates their constitutional rights.
The California Department of Corrections Sex Offender Program “Operation Boo” had requested sex offender parolees post a sign with that message, along with obeying a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.
But attorneys Janice Belluci, and Chance Oberstein, who argue for sex offenders’ rights, challenged the requirement that a Chula Vista client post a sign.
The attorneys reportedly asserted that the posting of the sign leaves sex offenders in danger; according to Fox 5 San Diego, Belluci said, “It makes them sitting ducks really.”
Belluci, who founded California Reform Sex Offender Laws, continued, “Of all days during the year to put a sign on the door, this is when people are normally out creating mischief but sometimes it gets worse than mischief. It gets more dangerous than mischief. So unfortunately we’ve had registered citizens who’ve been murdered for no other reason because they’re on the sex offender registry.”
The Operation Boo website stipulates that sex offenders must turn off their lights so children do not approach their residences on Halloween, and eschew putting up decorations and opening the door, unless police want entrance.
Belluci has been leading the charge for sex offenders for some time; filing 18 lawsuits in federal court challenging ordinances all over the state. She boasted, “The way I look at it is that I’m protecting the Constitution of the United States as well as the state of California.”
The constitutional question a forced sign requirement presents is that it may violate sex offenders’ First Amendment rights. They are already listed in a public registry; forcing them to post a particular message could expose municipalities to further lawsuits.
In 2014, 5,879 sex offenders were registered living in San Bernardino County.