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Halloween puts "Lights Out" for sex offenders

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Published On: Oct 30 2012 06:18:55 PM CDT
Trick or Treating
ABILENE, Texas -

Thousands of children eagerly anticipate celebrating Halloween Wednesday. But there are nearly 350 registered sex offenders in Taylor County alone and authorities have a plan to keep your children safe.

"Lights Out" is a mandatory event that prevents sex offenders who are out on probation from inviting trick-or-treaters to their homes.

"This is the one night when you have many, many children out unattended, and for someone who wants to engage in activities with young children, this is a prime time," said Mike Wolfe Director of the Community Supervision and Corrections Department of Taylor, Callahan and Coleman Counties . "We think this is good public safety in taking this particular population off the street this particular night," he added.

Wolfe said the department initiated the Lights Out program in 2005--one year after a sex offender was spotted at an elementary school Halloween party.

"The original concept was that they'd have no lights and no decorations, and that way the trick-or-treaters would not go to their door," Wolfe said. "What we discovered though, after the first year, is that we need to bring them into us," he added.

While locked in and supervised by probation officers, the convicted sex offenders complete a counseling session with a therapist and take a drug test.

Wolfe said Lights Out is a win-win for everyone involved.

"Ironically, most on the sex offenders have no problem with this," Wolfe said. "They understand that not only is this being done for the protection of the children, it's being done for their protection because from 6 to 9:30 p.m. somebody knows where they are."

Wolfe said 85 sex offenders from Taylor, Callahan and Coleman counties and 15 offenders from Sweetwater will be required to participate Wednesday. 

Convicted sex offenders are required to register with the State of Texas. You can search for them in your area here.