SPRINGFIELD - For the third consecutive year, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will increase surveillance of paroled sex offenders on the days leading up to and on Halloween. Operation Safe Spirits works with local law enforcement throughout the state to keep a closer eye on paroled sex offenders during this time when more kids are out in the evenings going door-to-door to trick-or-treat.
“There will be thousands of children participating in Halloween activities in the coming days in Illinois. We want to make sure your kids are safe to trick-or-treat in their neighborhoods,” said IDOC Director Roger E. Walker Jr. “This operation is another strong example of IDOC’s dedication and collaboration with law enforcement in addressing public safety.”
On the days leading up to and on Halloween, IDOC will be conducting face-to-face contacts and spot checks with the state’s 1,100 paroled sex offenders. Paroled sex offenders are on electronic or GPS (Global Positioning System) monitoring and have been served with requirements of their parole. Conditions include that they do not go outside on Halloween, dress in costume, have their porch lights on or distribute candy to trick-or-treaters. Paroled sex offenders not meeting these conditions could be returned to prison.
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has signed many laws that tightened restrictions on sex offenders. House Bill 121, which went into effect in July 2005, prevents sex offenders from preying on children during the holidays. The law provides that as a condition of probation, conditional discharge, parole, or mandatory supervised release, a sex offender may not participate in a holiday event involving children under 18 years of age, such as handing out candy on Halloween, wearing a Santa Claus costume on or preceding Christmas, being employed as a department store Santa Claus, or wearing an Easter Bunny costume on or preceding Easter.
IDOC also continues to improve community safety through Governor Blagojevich’s Sex Offender Initiative, which includes a specially trained sex offender supervision unit whose main objective is to provide a high level of supervision for sex offenders on parole. Through this initiative, partnerships continue to be enhanced statewide to improve the safety of all families in Illinois.
“IDOC is committed to keeping all essential components of the system working together to ensure the safety of our communities and the effective management of sex offenders,” Walker said. “However, it is still important for all parents to educate themselves with information regarding the locations of registered sex offenders.”
The Illinois State Police sex offender registry is available online at www.isp.state.il.us.