Oct 28, 2013 12:38 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI - For the past 8 years, teams like Elsa Leal and Rick Morales from the Nueces County Community Supervision and Corrections Department head out the week leading up to Halloween.
They knock on doors and check the homes of registered sex offenders - all in an effort to make sure things are as safe as possible for children and families by conducting an annual sweep around the popular holiday.
"Making sure - one - that they live where they say they live," says Leal, a CSCD probation supervisor. "[And] that there are no Halloween decorations so that they do not lure children to their houses."
They also make clear to the offenders that the county is watching.
Sex offenders in Nueces County are not allowed to have Halloween decorations or pass out candy. They also can't have any outside lights on at their homes between 6 p.m. and midnight on Halloween.
In fact, each sex offender is required to stay inside their home, unless they are participating in treatment or working.
Probation officers say this sweep is not only unique, but also necessary. Most offenders are accustomed to restrictions that affect where they can go.
"But in this situation, you're going to have a lot of the kids that are actually going to the residence. And we're making sure that each one of these defendants are not having anything exposed and not luring the kids to come to their residence," Morales says.
In all, probation officers are hoping to visit and verify about 90 addresses. Their work won't be done until trick or treaters fill the streets on the evening of Halloween.
"We go out the week before up until that night," Leal explains, "to make sure someone doesn't try and sneak decorations, a bowl of candy - things like that - on that night to attract kids."
Both Leal and Morales say the main goal of the sweep is the safety of the community.
If you see any suspicious activity from a known sex offender, you can call Nueces County CSCD at 361-854-4122.