DOC: Home visits to sex offenders during Halloween keep trick-or-treaters safe

DOC: Home visits to sex offenders during Halloween keep trick-or-treaters safe

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections will be making random home visits to protect children from registered sex offenders on Halloween.

Hundreds of DOC parole and probation agents and local law enforcement officers will patrol neighborhoods during trick-or-treating hours to make sure registered sex offenders are not breaking any rules.

There are about 5,800 registered sex offenders who are on community supervision statewide. They are prohibited from handing out candy, wearing costumes or having their porch light on.

Grace Knutson, director of the Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry, said parents should talk to their kids about scenarios that could happen and how to respond.

“What if we get separated? What if you get excited and run ahead? What if you step out on the street without looking? So more so about their personal safety so they feel empowered with that,” Knutson said.

Before a night of candy and costumes, parents can visit the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry website to find out if a sex offender lives within three miles of their home by entering their address.

Knutson said parents should take steps to keep their kids safe, but should also remember there’s a fine line between preparedness and paranoia.

“Being aware but not being where you limit your child’s activity because you want your child to have a happy childhood.” Knutson said. “Be able to go trick-or-treating and not be afraid to go out.”

In 2016, DOC parole and probation agents conducted more than 2,100 home visits and took nearly 30 registered sex offenders into custody for violating rules.