Sex offenders under close Halloween scrutiny

ALBANY -- Law enforcement officials promise to hold a strict line on sex offenders on probation or on parole this Halloween.

"Every year at Halloween, the Sheriff's office and county police check all the sex offenders and child molesters to make sure they are not out with the children," said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Capt. Craig Todd. "If they are at home, they have curfews to follow."

There are two convicted classes of offenders under a tight state watch, officials said: those on probation and those on parole.

The state works with sheriffs' offices to send teams out to check on offenders on probation, said Kristin Stancil, a Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman.

The teams go door-to-door to probationers' homes and high-volume traffic areas for children on the holiday, she added.

"Offenders are not allowed to give out candy. They have to be in their homes with the lights off -- no lights or decorations to attract children -- and their doors must be locked. They cannot open the door to anyone," Stancil said. "If they are in violation, they face a warrant for arrest or an administrative hearing."

The penalties for violations depend on the terms of the probation and vary case by case, Stancil said. She declined to give curfew hours.

"The teams also go to high-traffic areas for kids, like the mall or any haunted house areas," Stancil said. "We have about 155 probationers in the (Dougherty) Judicial Circuit."

The Frightnights 2009 haunted house in Albany is at the former Circuit City store at 1223 N. Westover Blvd. It will have visits from the teams, law enforcement officials said.

Sexual offenders on parole will have to report for psychological treatment on Halloween, said Leslie Lamb, chief parole officer in Albany. They are kept off the streets until after 10 p.m., Lamb added.

If offenders don't show up, Lamb's officers track them down and take them to jail.

"I have 11 under my supervision in Albany," Lamb said. "I have a couple of child molesters, seven rapists, one for sexual battery and an aggravated stalker."

The parolees in treatment have to report to Cheryl Kaiser, an Albany psychologist, for the holiday at an undisclosed location.

Kaiser said she generally shows a movie that establishes empathy with the victim and aids in therapy. There is a therapy session that lasts longer than an hour after the movie she said.

"I have offenders in treatment from other areas as well as the city," Kaiser said. "We have more than 30 on Halloween. But don't think we have a party. We don't. We have therapy."