Division’s year-round work gets positive coverage via media ride-alongs

By Luis Patino, CDCR Public Information Officer
Photos by Eric Owens, CDCR Staff Photographer
Office of Public and Employee Communications

Candle light shined bright orange from inside the jack-o-lantern that had been placed on the front door.  Porch lights glowed brightly and as soon as the door opened, a bowl full of candy greeted the visitor.

By most accounts, this house in North Sacramento was like many other California homes on Halloween night.  Except at this home, the decorations, lit porch light and even the bowl of candy were allegedly illegal.

They were forbidden because it’s the home of a known sex-offender parolee who had been warned days before not to do anything that might lure children to their home.

In addition to their regular conditions of parole all sex offender parolees had been previously ordered to abide by special conditions for Halloween night that included:

  • A 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew during which parolees must remain indoors;
  • All exterior lights of their homes must be turned off so that it looks as if no one is home, which discourages children from approaching;
  • No offering of Halloween candy and no Halloween decorations are allowed;
  • During the curfew, sex offender parolees can only open the door to respond to law enforcement, such as parole agents who are patrolling their caseload to ensure compliance.

So, within minutes of the parole agent’s arrival at the home, the sex-offender parolee who lived there was in handcuffs and on his way to jail as a result of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Operation Boo on Halloween night 2015 by agents from the Division of Adult Parole Operations (DAPO) and their law enforcement partners.

In all, DAPO agents conducted 1,255 compliance checks or searches as part of the 23nd Annual Operation Boo child safety project.

“Our thanks go out to the hundreds of parole agents and local law enforcement personnel, many of whom volunteer their time, to help ensure that California’s children can enjoy a safer trick-or-treat experience free from sexual predators,” said Bobby Haase, Acting Director of the Division of Adult Parole Operations.

Most of the sex-offenders contacted statewide were in full compliance, but 56 sex-offender parolees were arrested and taken to nearby jails for violations of their special conditions of parole. (Click here for more statistics on the 2015 Operation Boo.)

Statewide, new charges were filed against four of the sex-offender parolees contacted. Pornography was confiscated from sixteen of the parolees checked on Halloween night.

Five parolees were caught with weapons. Seven parolees were found with narcotics such as the North Sacramento sex-offender who was caught with Marijuana and alcohol and chronicled by Sacramento’s KCRA.

The parole agents and their local law enforcement partners were accompanied by dozens of news reporters and camera crews who provided media coverage of the operation in every major media market in California.

“Our agents and their partners are keeping kids safe and getting recognized for their year-round efforts. The amount of positive coverage that DAPO agents receive during Operation Boo is amazing and well-deserved.” said DAPO’s External Affairs Liaison, Jessica Mazlum. The media coverage was also featured on CDCR’s Facebook and Twitter social media pages.

This year, CDCR’s coordination of Operation Boo in the Northern Region was led by Assistant Regional Administrator Albert Lee who is thankful for the wide-ranging support in his region.

“This was definitively a group effort,” Lee said. “DAPO staff is very committed and gave up time with their families on Halloween night to help ensure that their neighbor’s children would be safe.  Easily more than 100 parole agents and support staff were vital to making this year’s operation a success.”

Lee also thanked Regional Director Robert Ambroselli and Chief Deputy Regional Administrators Dwayne Cooks, and Ken Dow, for encouraging full participation.

In the Southern Region, the operation was led by John Bent and Karen Thacker who echoed the sentiment by “thanking every single agent and member of the support staff for their united effort and enthusiasm for keeping kids safe from predators.”

They also expressed appreciation for the backing from Southern Regional Director, Guillermo Viera-Rosa, and the rest of his deputies and support staff.

In addition to the traditional compliance checks, Operation Boo also offered a free downloadable brochure. The online Parent’s Guide has information to keep children safe not just during Halloween but all year round. It features these components:

  • Not Just Stranger Danger: The California Department of Justice‘s Megan’s Law website says 90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and up, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender. CDCR listed several website locations with tips on how to talk to children about dangerous behaviors by any adult, not just strangers.
  • Parent Empowerment: Links to important tools were included to help keep children safe, such as the Megan’s Law website that helps the public pinpoint where sex-offenders live so children can stay clear of them.

The Operation Parent’s Guide is available here.