A Georgia county puts up signs outside sex offenders’ homes warning trick-or-treaters to stay away. The sex offenders are suing.

Sex offenders argue warning signs at their homes violate their rights

BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. (WSB/Cox/CNN) - A class-action lawsuit has been filed over signs warning trick-or-treaters about visiting sex offenders’ homes.

Police in Butts County are preparing to put up the signs outside registered sex offenders’ homes for a second year, warning kids heading out to trick or treat to stay away from their homes.

Some residents in the county think it's a good idea.

“Everybody needs to know. It is just a matter of protecting your family,” Janie Bruce said. “I even showed my kids I was like see there, don’t go to that house. So to me it is keeping your kids safe.”

Sex offenders in a class-action lawsuit against the Butts County Sheriff disagree, arguing Georgia’s sex offender registry statute does not require signs like that to be placed at the homes of offenders.

In a statement, the attorney representing the sex offenders said in part: “The sheriff’s actions in entering these citizens property without permission and placing signs thereon violates multiple legal and constitutional rights, particularly the right to free speech, which may not be compelled by a government actor.”

The sheriff said he doesn’t want to comment until after the hearing. But on Facebook, he did post that “regardless of what the judge rules Thursday, he will do everything within the Law to protect the children of this Community.”

A federal judge will rule Thursday whether the signs will stay or go.

A mother said she wants to see them stay.

“I understand that all sexual offenders are not the same but as an overall consensus I believe that we need them,” Cassie Kelly said.

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