BERLIN – When trick-or-treaters young and old head out for the annual Halloween tradition tomorrow, the scariest sights they might see are the “No Candy at This Residence” signs posted on the doors of dozens of registered sex offenders in the area.
The rather ominous signs adorned with a sneering pumpkin were sent out to the roughly 1,200 registered sex offenders across Maryland earlier this month and are required to be posted on the registrants homes prior to the Halloween, which arrives tomorrow. Arriving in the mail with the signs is a letter from the state’s Division of Parole and Probation mandating registered sex offenders in the state stay at home, turn off outside lights and not answer their doors on Halloween.
“Halloween provides a rare opportunity for you to demonstrate to your neighbors that you are making a sincere effort to change the direction of your life,” the letter to registered sex offenders receiving the “no candy at this residence” signs read.
Maryland began placing the Halloween restrictions on registered sex offenders back in 2005. Locally, there are currently around 80 registered sex offenders living and working in Worcester County. A check of the official registry revealed there are currently 20 registered sex offenders living in the 21842 zip code, which includes Ocean City and much of West Ocean City. There are also 17 registered sex offenders in the 21811 zip code, which includes Berlin and much of Ocean Pines, and another 10 living in the Snow Hill area. Otherwise, the remaining registered sex offenders in the north end of the county area scattered in rural communities.
Maryland’s Division of Parole and Probation agents across the state will aggressively enforce no-contact orders and supervision conditions for child sex offenders tomorrow. On Halloween night, specialized agents from the DPP will join local law enforcement officers to monitor the activities of the roughly 1,200 registered offenders in the state.
“Those who are on parole or probation will be required to post the signs and they will garner a little more scrutiny then some of the others,” he said. “But that’s how it normally is anyway. Those currently on probation or parole are scrutinized a little more anyway, whether it’s Halloween or not.”
While the mandated restrictions are strictly adhered to in densely populated metropolitan areas around the state, Esposito said he is not overly concerned about the people under his watch in Worcester County.
“Just about all of our offenders are generally in compliance,” he said. “We haven’t really had any problems at all in Worcester County. We’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”
Registered sex offenders in Worcester and across the state are required to report in on a regular basis and notify of any changes in the status of the residence or employment. Esposito said while the nature of Halloween warrants a little more scrutiny of some of the offenders, most are reporting in as a matter of routine and not because of the holiday.
“The majority of our people are required to re-register at this time of the year anyway,” he said. “It’s just a coincidence that it happens that way around Halloween.”