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Friday, October 31, 2008

Federal appeals court upholds Missouri Halloween sex offender law
Jay Carmella at 2:00 PM ET

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit [official site] on Thursday upheld a Missouri state law [SB 714 s. 589.426 text, PDF] designed to prevent registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween activities. The law requires sex offenders to post a sign reading "No candy or treats at this residence," turn off porch lights, avoid Halloween-related activity with children, and remain in their homes on Halloween between 5:00 PM to 10:30 PM unless there is just cause to leave. The decision overturns a ruling [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri [official site] on Monday that found that two provisions of the law were too restrictive and could not be enforced. Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt [official website] praised the Thursday’s decision in a statement [press release]:

As Missouri's governor I have signed tough legislation to increase the penalties for sexual predators, particularly those who commit crimes against our children. I am pleased that the court ruled that our new provisions to protect Missouri’s children from sexual predators on Halloween can be enforced.
AP has more.

The federal court’s decision breaks a judicial trend towards overturning sex offender laws found to be too restrictive. Georgia, New Jersey and Indiana [JURIST reports] are among the states that have recently overturned laws. The increased scrutiny stems in part from a report [text] by Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] in September 2007 that said it is unclear whether sex offender laws “do more harm or good."

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