Some good Halloween news from Louisiana
By Sandy . . . NARSOL is pleased to report that our efforts to end the practice of “No-candy” Halloween warning signs have borne fruit in Louisiana. This outcome is a direct result of the precedential case in Georgia NARSOL sponsored, McClendon v. Long.
A week before Halloween, 2023, NARSOL made the determination that three specific parishes in Louisiana were requiring everyone on the sex offender registry within their jurisdictions to post “No candy at this residence” signs on their house; in their yard; or, in one of the three, on the public easement directly in front of their residences. There are without question more parishes in Louisiana engaging in this practice, but for a variety of reasons—phone calls not returned; no one knowing the information or even who to ask; getting the information too late—only three were definitively identified in time for the next phase of the plan: Beauregard, St. Bernard and St. Tammany.
A letter addressed to the three sheriffs was prepared informing them that nothing in Louisiana law gave them the authority to take such action. They were reminded of the outcome of NARSOL’s legal action in 2019 against a sheriff in Georgia who persisted in placing very similar signs after we sent him a very similar letter; the Eleventh Circuit found against him, and, as the losing party, he not only was required to cease placing Halloween signs at registrants’ homes but also was required to pay attorney fees and expenses. Our letters asked the Louisiana sheriffs to abandon their plans to place the signs and to contact NARSOL within 24 hours as time before Halloween was short.
Emails were prepared bearing the same message as the letters, and the letters were printed on NARSOL letterhead and made ready for postal delivery.
The emails were sent and the letters were taken to the post office and mailed for two-day delivery on Thursday, the 26th. The mailing was timed to arrive on Monday, the 30th, the day before Halloween.
We received no response at all to our emails and were prepared to receive none from the mailed letters.
We received notification that the letters were delivered as planned on Monday, October 30.
And then we received a surprise telephone call. The sheriff of Beauregard Parish called to let us know that his office would not be placing the signs as planned. He said that the practice “used to be” allowed in the Louisiana statutes (we were unable to verify that) and that he thought it was still the law, but now that he knew it wasn’t, he would discontinue the practice.
Today is Halloween. We have received no notification from St. Bernard or St. Tammany Parishes. We could still hear from them before trick-or-treating begins. They may choose not to place the signs without notifying us. That will be determined.
At this point, we assume one parish is not going to place the signs and two parishes are.
One out of three isn’t too bad. Most baseball players would be pleased to have a .333 batting average.
Records show somewhere between 100 and 130 on the registry in Beauregard Parish. That is up to 130 registrants and their families who won’t have signs on or in front of their homes, signs that, for all practical purposes, announce by implication to anyone driving by that a registered sexual offender lives there; that further separate and ostracize them from the society that they are expected to integrate in to; that violate their constitutional rights by forcing them to carry the government’s message; and that make them potential targets for damage to their property and harm to themselves.
However, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes have, between them, close to 600 registrants, with the vast majority in St. Tammany. That means that those registrants, those families, those children with parents (or themselves, as young as fourteen) on the registry are subject to the ostracization, the constitutional violations, the fear that the Halloween signage brings.
We have months to verify which parishes in Louisiana carried out the placement of these signs, months to look at counties in other states where rogue sheriffs, in violation of the state laws that they have sworn to uphold, have taken it upon themselves to enforce a non-existent law.
Months before next Halloween when they will receive warning from NARSOL, not the day before but well, well in advance of Halloween itself.