HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — There’s renewed interest knowing where sex offenders live in Pennsylvania. Some think there are too many offenders clustered, especially in low-income areas in Harrisburg.
Megan’s Law has been around for more than two decades. It’s critical for survivors to know where their abusers live and work and it’s a tool for families to be aware of who’s down the block.
“I think it’s always good for our community to know who your neighbors are,” said Commonwealth Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm.
Megan’s Law allows anyone to look up their address or zip code to find sex offenders in their area.
For most, it’s situational awareness.
“Certainly it should never be used to harm, intimidate or harass those individuals that are on the registry,” Storm said.
Websites like Family Watchdog take the data and put it all on a map.
That’s where community activist Kevin Maxson became concerned. “There’s a large population of pedophiles and people with sexual offenses in my area. It’s almost saturated.”
He fears too many offenders are living near parks and schools.
“That’s kind of extreme to have such a large saturation in a predominately minority area and not that same population across the river,” Maxson said. “And that’s something that I think we need to take a look at.”
Storm says offenders are often clustered near halfway houses or transitional homes.
“Trying to find affordable housing and trying to find a landlord that is comfortable renting to someone who is known to be on the registry or is known to have a felony, that obviously always really limits the options for offenders,” Storm said.
She says if you’re looking at these maps for the first time it can be alarming, but should be used as a tool.
“If you know that in a certain area in your community there’s a larger portion of sex offenders, than that’s going to be an area that you’re going to be even more vigilant with your children and where you’re going to allow them to go and the freedom with which you’re going to let them roam,” Storm said.
Still, Maxson says more should be done to keep the community safe.
“These people who plan the city. These people who parole these people to certain areas, come on. You’ve got to do better than this,” Maxson said.