NARSOL AR affiliate testifies at House committee; Halloween restrictions bill stopped – at least for now
By Jeannie Roberts . . . A bill that would prohibit sex offenders from participating in certain Halloween-related activities had a setback Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 10 — sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, and Rep. Rebecca Petty, R-Rogers — was knocked down by the committee after a lengthy discussion, but the vote was expunged, allowing its sponsors an opportunity to present it again later.
SB10 would bar a person required to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act of 1997 and who is assessed as a level 3 or level 4 offender from distributing treats to a child or from wearing a mask or other costume as part of a Halloween-related event.
The law would allow the sex offender to hand out candy or host a Halloween event if the minors are his or her own children. A violation would be a Class D felony, punishable by up to six years in prison.
Petty, who presented the bill to the committee, said Halloween is a more susceptible time for children to be harmed by sex offenders . . .
She cited sex-offender data from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Arkansas Crime Information Center, but did not provide statistics specifically about crimes committed by sex offenders on Halloween.
Rep. Andrew Collins, R-Little Rock, asked Petty if she was aware of studies that showed “zero increase” in sex offender crimes on Halloween.
“I do not have that answer,” Petty said. She then called on Arkansas Crime Information Center Administrator Brad Cozart to answer the question for the committee.
Cozart said he did not “have any hard data” specific to Halloween crimes by registered sex offenders.
Carla Swanson, the mother of a registered sex offender and the head of Arkansas Time After Time organization, a legislative advocacy group formed in 2010, told the committee that crimes by sex offenders on Halloween are rare and usually combined with another non-sexual violation.