A judge in Georgia has ruled in favor of three registered sex offenders who sued the sheriff's department for placing signs in their yards warning parents and children to skip their homes while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
"NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG," the signs read.
Some signs were placed on the property of registered Butts County sex offenders by the sheriff's department, while others were mailed to the individuals with a mandate to post them or face criminal action.
The three men filed a lawsuit after learning that signs, which were first placed in their yard last year, would again be distributed and mandated again. Though they were suing on behalf of all sex offenders in the area, many of whom were not involved in crimes related to children, Judge Marc Treadwell issued a temporary injunction that applied only to the individuals involved in the lawsuit.
"The question the Court must answer is not whether (Butts County Sheriff Gary Long's) plan is wise or moral, or whether it makes penological sense. Rather, the question is whether Sheriff Long's plan runs afoul of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. It does," Treadwell's ruling stated.
Sheriff Long vowed to protect the children of Butts County regardless of the outcome. "Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday,” he said in a Facebook post, “I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community."
Judge Treadwell issued a warning to Long, however, that he too abide by the letter of the law. "[Sheriff Long] should be aware that the authority for [his] blanket sign posting is dubious at best and even more dubious if posted over the objection of registrants."