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Sex offender laws challenged outside of Minnesota, too

We are following up on a series of posts from August about the proposed reforms to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (Changes are gonna come slowly for MSOP). U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank found the program unconstitutional earlier in the summer, and he was awaiting recommendations from the plaintiffs and the state before making his own recommendations for restructuring of and improvements to the program. 

According to the Star Tribune, Frank will hand down his decision by the end of October. What he does not want to happen, Frank told the courtroom, is for Minnesota not to have a transitional plan in place when the offenders at the center of the dispute are released. Frank does not want to make the mistake that California made, he said.

That is not the only mistake California has made with respect to sex offenders, according to a lawsuit filed recently. The plaintiff is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation over restrictions placed on registered sex offenders for Halloween night.

The CDCR's website describes "Operation Boo" in detail. With the stated objective of "protecting children from sexual predators during Halloween," Operation Boo restricts the activities of registered sex offenders supervised by CDCR -- that is, registered sex offenders who are on parole -- on Oct. 31 of every year by imposing the following rules:

  • Observe a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew by staying indoors and opening the door only to law enforcement officers
  • Turn off exterior lights on their homes
  • Do not offer Halloween candy
  • Do not display Halloween decorations

In addition, parole agents monitor the homes of these parolees "to ensure that they don't attempt to attract children to their homes." The department also operates Transient Sex-Offender Curfew Centers to ensure that homeless sex offenders are not on the streets with trick-or-treaters.

All of these restrictions are enforced statewide -- and some counties have decided to add their own.

We'll explain more in our next post.

Sources:

Star Tribune, "Judge mulls reforms to Minnesota's 'unconstitutional' sex offender treatment," Jeremy Olson, Sept. 30, 2015

San Diego Union Tribune, "Should sex offenders face restrictions on Halloween?," Dana Littlefield, Oct. 16, 2015

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