A group of sex offenders in Georgia is suing the Butts County Sheriff's office for posting "No Trick-or-Treat" signs on their homes.
The Butts County Sheriff said he is using the signs to keep kids safe, but the sex offenders argued they are a violation of their rights to free speech and privacy.
The initiative began in 2018 when Butts County Sheriff Gary Long directed deputies to place "Warning! No Trick-or-Treat at this address!!" signs in the front yards of over 200 sex offenders registered in the county from Oct. 24-Nov. 2. The sheriff's office plans to use the same tactic again this year, and three registered sex offenders have filed suit.
In a Facebook post, Sheriff Gary Long said he had instituted the signs as a result of the cancellation of a local Halloween festival, "Halloween on the Square," and the subsequent influx of door-to-door trick-or-treaters. He said they had been following Georgia law and protecting children when they implemented the public warnings.
"The law allows the sheriff to put a list of registered sex offenders at his office, at the courthouse, on the internet," the lead attorney for the petitioners, Mark Yurachek, told Fox 5 Atlanta. "It does not allow him to go door-to-door telling people you have a sex offender living next door to you."
"I'm just not sure that this kind of action makes your kids any safer," Yurachek said of the initiative. "It just makes your constitutional rights less safe."
"The trespass stuff is pretty clear. They're coming onto their property and putting the signs on there," Yurachek added.
Their attorney argued that since the Georgia State Sex Offender Registry does not require offenders to post these signs, they shouldn't be forced by local deputies to have them displayed outside.