Sex offenders off the streets on Halloween - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Sex offenders off the streets on Halloween

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WXTX) – Halloween is the night for scary costumes and trick-or-treating, and one East Alabama county helped to make sure your kids stayed safe during all the fun.

"Don't eat candy unwrapped or don't go out on the street with an adult," says 6-year-old Will Johnson.

He knows the rules for Halloween, and the Russell County Sheriff's Office is making sure sex offenders know the law on the spooky holiday.

Sheriff Heath Taylor says a partnership with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles helped to make it possible for sex offenders on probation to be required to come to the county courthouse on Halloween.

"Halloween gives the perfect opportunity for a potential predator to be giving candy to a child," said Sheriff Taylor.

The sheriff says about 55 sex offenders reported to the courthouse Monday evening during prime trick-or-treating hours, 6 to 9 PM, helping keep them away from kids while they got a refresher course on sex offender laws.

More than 30 of those offenders are on probation and required to come, but the rest volunteered. 

One of those volunteers agreed to speak to FOX 54, but he did not want to reveal his name.  He was charged with child molestation over 20 years ago and explained did not mind being at the courthouse if it means keeping kids safe.

"You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and I figure it is part of the solution.  I might hear something I need to know," said the man.

Parents like Melanie Johnson are grateful, but she says parents still need to practice safety.

"[You should] stay in the neighborhood you know, or know the area that you take child door to door, and you should always have parents accompanying them.  I still think you should check the candy before anyone eats it," said Johnson.

Sheriff Taylor encourages you to be aware of your surroundings not just on Halloween but every day. He says a tool on the Russell County Website can help by just plugging in your street.

"Your address, your friend's address and it'll tell you within like one mile, two or three, whichever you choose, how many sex offenders live close to your home."

Copyright 2011 WXTX. All rights reserved.

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