Danie M. Huffman
Every Halloween, children seek monsters, witches and creepy characters.
Most parents are concerned about where the real ghouls and goblins are on Halloween, and every night.
Families in Maryland will no longer wonder which houses to pay a visit to when their children go trick-or-treating this Oct. 31. Signs were distributed to the offenders homes, which are mandated to be posted on their front doors.
The sign, in the shape of a pumpkin, states, “No candy at this residence.”
Refusal to post the signs will result in a parole violation for the offender. Pamphlets were mailed to homes across the state warning families of the 1,200 offenders, and explaining the signs.
Letters were sent to the offenders accompanying the signs ordering them to stay home, turn off their outdoor lights and not answer the door.
Parker County is also doing something about the safety of children on that frightful eve to keep kids away from the so-called “haunted” houses of the offenders.
According to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, the county has 180 registered sex offenders. Of those offenders, 40 are currently on parole. They are required to show up for a mandated “counseling session” at the adult probation office from 6 to 10 p.m.
Mike Stack, chief probation officer for Parker County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, said the county has been hosting the sessions for the past four years.
Wise and Jack counties requested local authorities to include their offenders in the local program. A total of 65 registered sex offenders are required to show up to the probation office.
“These are just the ones we supervise under our jurisdiction,” Stack said.
Remaining registered offenders are not even allowed to hang holiday decorations on their homes — for any holiday.
“That’s correct,” Sack said when asked.
Caseload supervisors pay personal visits to offenders’ homes throughout the year to ensure they stick by the rules. Any violations will have the offender brought back to the courts for an administrative review.
That includes hanging garland, lights and holiday characters on their doors and windows or posting yard signs and decorations during any holiday season.
“We generally get all the compliance we ask for,” Stack said, adding the program works and county officials intend to stick with it.
Not all offenders have the same probation conditions.
Stack said authorities ask offenders to participate willingly with the requests even if they are not required to by the stipulations placed on their probation by the court.
Stack said his office closely monitors all actions of registered sex offenders. He added, case reviews are common even if the conditions are not mandatory for every offender.
“Depending on the violation, they could have a motion to revoke filed and or spend a few days in jail for the violation,” Stack said. “Reviews are another sanctioning tool we use which can osculate the penalty. If they continue to not follow the rules, violations result in a motion to revoke their probation [which can be filed].”
Weatherford residents can see who the offenders are in their community and where they reside by logging on to the city’s Web site, www.ci.weatherford.tx.us.
Names, photos and addresses of registered sex offenders living within Weatherford City limits are listed on the site.
Weatherford Police Detective Lannie Fulton said 35 such offenders are registered in the city. All registered, supervised Weatherford City offenders are to report Halloween night to the CSCD building along with county offenders.
Willow Park Police Capt. William Ray said department records indicate two sex offenders are registered in the Willow Park area. Local police officers will pay them a visit on Halloween night to make sure they are complying with the conditions of their probation.
Springtown Police Sgt. Kris Taylor said Springtown has at least one registered sex offender under supervision. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Springtown had 70 registered sex offenders in all living in the 76082 area code.
Officers from Springtown, Willow Park and Parker County deputies will pay random visits on Halloween to other registered sex offenders who are not currently supervised.
All Texas registered sex offenders can be found on the Texas Department of Public Safety Web site, https://records.txdps.state.tx.us
Searches can be conducted by name, address, county, school, national or by zip codes. The offender’s name and alias, photo, address, physical description including shoe size, birth date, employer, risk level, offense, victim’s age and gender and how long they are to register is listed on the site, which is updated continually.
Azle registered sex offenders can be found by logging onto www.cityofazle.org. The site lists the offender’s photo, name, address, physical description, offense, risk level and other facts. Texas DPS lists Azle as having 65 registered sex offenders, but the site lists only 15. According to the site, it was last updated October 2007.
County offenders will soon be just a click away. Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said Web designers are in the process of adding an offender identification link containing the names of all registered sex offenders residing in Parker County.