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“We’ve had very good results,” said Wonda Adams, a supervisor at the Parole and Probation Division and coordinator of the Halloween watch program.

“Our goal is public safety, and in keeping with that we need to make sure that the individuals under our supervision are provided with the enhanced supervision that we’re committed to,” she said.

The state also this year is distributing pamphlets statewide to warn families and trick-or-treaters to stay away from homes with the pumpkin signs, Mrs. Adams said.

Maryland sex offenders are tracked by an online database, listed in the state sex-offender registry and ordered to comply with the Halloween program for varying times - from a lifetime for violent and child sex offenses to 10 years for lesser sex crimes.

State parole and probation agents generally approve of the get-tough initiative, said Raimund Douglas, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3661, which represents the agents.

However, one agent has called the new sign a “publicity stunt” and said it should clearly state that a violent sex offender lives at the house.

“The division is more worried about being politically correct than protecting public safety,” said the agent, who asked to remain anonymous.

He also said some sex offenders think the pumpkin sign “is a joke” and that one asked “whether we would we be giving him a turkey decoration at Thanksgiving.”

The Maryland ACLU declined to comment for this article.