A bill prohibiting Halloween activities and mandating a curfew for registered sex offenders has moved steadily through the State House. The legislation was introduced by Representative Lowell Russell (R-Vonore), a retired member of law enforcement himself.
The bill would align with similar rules previously imposed on offenders by law enforcement around the holiday. Since 2015, Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) has implemented “Operation Blackout,” a coordinated effort to conduct compliance checks on sex offenders that were on probation or parole come Halloween night. The offenders were required to abide by a 12-hour curfew and no-costume policy, as well as keep their porch lights off, doors closed to trick-or-treaters, and homes free of all fall decorations.
Last year, TDOC discovered that nearly 80 percent of offenders were in compliance during checks.
Similarly to Operation Blackout, the bill would prohibit any form of participation in Halloween: costumes, decorations, candy, treats, favors, or gifts aimed at enticing minors.
Additionally, the bill would shorten the curfew standard established by Operation Blackout, instead lasting from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Exceptions to the curfew would be reserved for registered sex offenders that have work during those hours, or if they or their immediate family has a documented medical emergency.
Currently, the section of the Tennessee Code that would be impacted by this bill makes it an offense for registered sex offenders to wear costumes or fake their identity in the presence of a minor, be employed or involved in something that knowingly would allow them to have unsupervised and direct access to a minor, and operating vehicles such as ice cream trucks for the purpose of gaining access to minors.
The bill was assigned to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on Monday. If passed, the legislation would go into effect on July 1.
– – –