See How Parole Officers Ensured Kids' Safety by Checking on Sex Offenders on Halloween
As little goblins and ghouls haunted the streets of New York on Monday, parole officers did their own door knocking to make sure convicted sex offenders did not cross paths with trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
For the eleventh year in a row, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) imposed special conditions on sex offenders to ensure the safety of children Monday, closely monitoring those individuals to ensure they abide by the rules.
“They must remain in their residence, refrain from handing out candy, wearing costumes… This is all to protect children in the community in general from sex offenders,” Senior Parole Officer Alan Cohen told InsideEdition.com, which got a firsthand look as officers in upper Manhattan checked on their parolees.
Parole officers across the state paid visits to approximately 3,000 sex offenders under their supervision, authorities said.
Parolees on the sex offender registry were required to be home on Halloween by 3 p.m., or immediately following the end of their work day or an approved community program, and were required to remain home until 6 a.m. Tuesday.
“We’re imposing conditions well in advance, so they know they’re supposed to be home,” Cohen said. “They know exactly what they’re not supposed to be doing on this day.”
Though most parolees were at home when Senior Officer Cohen, Officer Rosa Nunez and Officer Jennifer Colon came knocking, some were nowhere to be found — a potentially serious violation on a night considered a target-rich environment for a sex offender.
Those found violating the conditions of their parole may face punishment, including re-arrest.
"We went into one of our parolee’s homes, and he wasn’t home," Nunez said. "He was supposed to be home at 3 o’clock. I just finished seeing him yesterday. He wasn’t home for curfew in the morning and I just got on his case. And he still wasn’t here for curfew today. We may have to issue a warrant or tighten his curfew. We have to take some measures for what he did."
Parolees who agreed to speak with InsideEdition.com said that while they understood the reasons behind setting such strict guidelines on a night such as Halloween, but ultimately believed they serve little purpose but to unnecessarily punish people already atoning for their sins.
“I don’t feel that I’m an animal. I’m a human being. I made a mistake in life. I paid for my mistake,” said one man on the sex offender registry who spoke to InsideEdition.com on the condition of anonymity.
"I’m doing what I need to do in life to fit into society just fine," he continued. "I’ve been home for six-and-a-half years with no violations, no nothing, doing my programs — just, it’s a little frustrating."
The man, who authorities said committed a sex crime against his young daughter, said Halloween is no different than any other day.
“I’m in the streets every day. I ride the trains with kids, I ride the buses with kids, the store's got kids, the supermarket’s got kids. And I thank God that I’m doing the right thing in life. But it does bother me a little to be stuck here and everybody else is free,” he said. “I’m not going to do nothing wrong, I’m not going to go snatch some kids, like, come on, really? Work with me here.
"I’m 51 years old; I never thought that I’d have a curfew. But I did that to myself, so I have to deal with that."
Cohen disagreed, telling InsideEdition.com that the precautions work and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
”They think they paid back their debt to society when they completed their sentence. However, this post release is part of their sentence,” he said. “And I believe a lot of what we do is what prevents further crimes of this sort from happening — from happening in general.”
Officials advise parents and other residents to search the state’s Sex Offender Registry for information about registered level 2 and level 3, or moderate-risk and high-risk, sex offenders, in their neighborhoods.
The registry contains residence addresses, photographs and vehicle specifics, including make, model and license plates.
Cohen, Nunez and Colon planned to visit 30 parolees on the sex offender registry that are under supervision Monday night, forgoing any plans with their own families to ensure the safety of children across the city.
It’s a preventative measure that Cohen considers invaluable.
“I think without us, these guys could be going around, doing whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it,” he said. “I think we’re a buffer.”