JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Your regular trick-or-treating route could include the home of a sex offender, and you would not know it without some prior research.
The state of Mississippi, unlike several others, does not have a law preventing sex offenders from participating in Halloween activities such as handing out candy or decorating yards.
Florida and Tennessee are just two of the states near Mississippi that have specific laws regarding sex offenders on Halloween.
In Florida, sex offenders are not allowed to distribute candy or other items to children on Halloween, according to statute 947.1405 (12)(b) and 948.30, which also has restrictions on other major holidays.
Jones County Assistant District Attorney Kristen Martin said although there had not been an incident where sex offenders committed lewd acts on Halloween in Jones County, she encouraged parents to be vigilant during higher-risk times.
"(Parents) may want to check the sex offender registry if they have some concerns before they take their children trick-or-treating," Martin said.
That registry, which can be searched by name or geographic location, can be found here.
Allyson Knotts with the Jones County Sheriff's Department said parents should also remember common sense tips on Halloween.
"When you take your child out trick or treating, first of all, you go with them," Knotts said. "Make sure they're dressed appropriately, and make sure you have your eye on them."
Knotts said if a parent cannot accompany his or her child on Halloween, make sure the houses they visit are ones with which the parent is familiar.