Halloween and Operation Boo: What’cha Gonna Do When They Come for You?
Like Halloween itself, it has become an annual tradition with law enforcement in California to spend the evening of Oct. 31 knocking on doors of registered sex offenders on parole to verify their compliance with a statewide-ordered lockdown known as “Operation Boo.”
Operation Boo is a coordinated effort between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and local law enforcement agencies to attempt to ensure that known convicted sex offenders still under community supervision are unable to have any access to children engaging in trick-or-treating in the community.
California’s public sex offender Megan’s Law website already identifies convicted sex offenders by photograph, name and address or location within the community. The federal government’s intent of requiring every state’s sex offender registry to be publicly accessible is to allow parents to protect their children themselves by avoiding sex offenders living at specific locations within their community.
Where are the Sex Offenders on Parole on Halloween Night?
The whereabouts of paroled sex offenders is never in question – on Halloween or any other night of the year. All sex offenders on parole in California wear state law mandated GPS tracking monitors. More importantly, sex crimes against children do not occur any more frequently on Halloween than on any other day of the year.1
But law enforcement still ramps up the risk argument on Oct. 31. Operation Boo is simply justification for more overtime while hyping the hysteria that all convicted sex offenders want to molest children.
What is Operation Boo?
CDCR has been conducting and expanding Operation Boo since 1994. Known sex-offenders supervised by CDCR are monitored closely by agents from the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) to ensure that they don’t attempt to attract children to their homes. Special conditions of parole are imposed on sex offenders for Halloween night.2
Special Halloween Conditions of Parole for Sex Offender Registrants
- A 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew during which parolees must remain indoors;
- All exterior lights of their homes must be turned off so that it looks as if no one is home, which discourages children from approaching;
- No offering of Halloween candy and no Halloween decorations are allowed;
- During the curfew, sex offender parolees can only open the door to respond to law enforcement, such as parole agents who are patrolling their caseload to ensure compliance.3
Up until 2016, there was also a requirement for sex offender parolees to put up a sign in front of their houses declaring their sex offender status. However, this part of Operation Boo was eliminated in recent years.
Transient (homeless) registrant parolees are required to report to curfew centers within the community on Oct. 31 by 5:00 p.m., where they are monitored by parole agents during the Halloween lockdown.
Jessica’s Law restricts residency of paroled sex offenders within 2000 feet of schools and parks.4 The California Sex Offender Management Board reports that this law is responsible for producing staggeringly high rates of homelessness among sex offender parolees.5
What is Wrong with Operation Boo?
Operation Boo is costly. It doesn’t protect children. It only applies to parolees. It perpetuates the myth that all sex offenders want to harm children. It violates the civil rights of the sex offender and anyone else he or she chooses to live with, including spouses, children and relatives or friends not on parole.
- Paroled sex offenders are wearing GPS tracking devices. The moment one attempts to leave his or her residence, the agent can be alerted and the parolee may be arrested for a parole violation.
- Just because a person turns off his or her porch lights doesn’t mean a person (a child, for example) won’t ring the bell or knock on the door.
- Once law enforcement have conducted their compliance check of a sex offender parolee’s residence, they don’t return. A parolee could answer the door to trick-or-treaters and the police would not know.
- Anyone living in the same household as the paroled sex offender is denied participation in the Halloween tradition along with the parolee.
Operation Boo is a “feel good” CDCR policy that accomplishes little, if anything. It looks good in newspapers and on TV but it is too broad.6 It is a manufactured response to a problem that does not exist.7
The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich believe that funding public policy which aims to educate the public on how to prevent child sex abuse before it happens would be a wiser use of tax-payer money than on an ineffective administrative policy like Operation Boo.
Wallin & Klarich May Be Able to Help You if You Register as a Sex Offender
If you register as a sex offender in California, you need to know that our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have more than 35 years of experience helping registrants with relief from lifetime sex offender registration requirements. We have helped hundreds of clients successfully apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. If granted by the court, this certificate could end your lifetime duty to register as a sex offender.
While you may think that you have no options for relief if you are on parole or probation, think again. Our attorneys may be able to help you terminate probation early if you meet the eligibility requirements. Contact our law firm today so we can discuss whether you are eligible for relief.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the experience and skill needed to persuade a court to grant a Certificate of Rehabilitation. We can help you to live a better life on Halloween and every day of the year.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Florida Action Committee: “Sex Crimes on Halloween”; ]↩
2. [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Adult Parole Operations: “Operation Boo”;]↩
4. [California Penal Code Section 3003.5(b)]↩
5. [California Sex Offender Management Board: “Homelessness Among California’s Registered Sex Offenders”; https://casomb.org/docs/Residence_Paper_Final.pdf]↩
6. [Los Angeles Times: “Operation Boo: It’s Too Broad”; https://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-xpm-2011-nov-02-la-ed-halloween-20111102-story.html]↩
7. [Huff Post The Blog: “Manufacturing Fear: Halloween Laws for Sex Offenders”; https://www.huffpost.com/entry/manufacturing-fear-hallow_b_4135793]↩