JACKSON, Ga. — Thousands of kids will hit the streets for trick or treat in just days.
In Butts County, Sheriff Gary Long said deputies in his county are putting preventative measures in place to keep kids safe. They have started placing ‘No Trick Or Treat’ yard signs in front of registered sex offenders homes in their county.
“This Halloween, my office has placed signs in front of every registered sex offender’s house to notify the public that it’s a house to avoid,” Long said in a Facebook post.
Could this effort to protect children put other families at risk? The warning feels like a target to some.
“There have been threats made. Hot heads saying just take a gun to their heads, it will solve it all,” said one Butts County mom, who didn’t want to be identified.
Georgia state law prohibits registered sex offenders from placing Halloween decorations on their property. The signs have the universal “no” symbol over a trick or treat bag underneath the message “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!!”
“That poster that is causing that hysteria is posted at my property and I have not done anything wrong,” she said.
The woman said her husband is on the sex offender registry list for a relationship he had with an underage woman when he was 20 years old.
“There’s so many levels,” she said. “There’s such a gray area of this one did this, and this one did that, but yet they happen to be treated all the same.”
The idea to put yard signs in front of registered sex offenders homes came after organizers decided not to have an annual trick-or-treating event.
“The big challenge that we face here in Butts County, for years and years and years and years they’ve always done Halloween on the square and on Halloween night we would have anywhere from 2,500 to 4,000 children,” the sheriff told 11Alive
Vickie Henry, president of Women Against Registry, said the yard signs can lead to harassment.
“They are not the threat that people perceive them to be,” she said. “And those signs are just going to make things worse.”
There are more than 50 sex offenders in Butts County, according to Sheriff Long. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations’ website shows close to 31,500 registered sex offenders in the state.
“There are some sex offenders that are not happy,” Long said. “But I’m not in the business of making them happy. I’m in the business of keeping safe communities and making sure that our children are protected.”