Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sex Offenders Near You

I'd heard that there was a sex offender database which was accessible to the public. Apparently, sex offenders are supposed to keep their address, e-mail, and instant message information updated. I'm not sure I ever looked that far into it, though.

It seems that neighbors are supposed to be notified whenever a registered sex offender moves into an area. I watched an episode of Law & Order which depicted a moment of neighborhood outrage once they found out an offender was in their midst - one who'd been alone with some of their children from time-to-time.

Anyway, that moment out of a fictional story was enough to motivate me to seek out the offender database. In Florida, you can view results as (virtual) thumbtacks on a map of your area or as a list - kinda like Google Maps. Your state's site may be different.

The maps even have pictures of the offenders, their addresses,... and their offenses.

In my case, it turns out that there are 34 registered sex offenders within a one-mile radius of our home - and we live across the street from a state university.

We, as citizens, can complain all day that sex offenders shouldn't be free to live amongst us and that we should be personally notified when they are, but if the information is available to us in such convenient, detailed formats and we fail to avail ourselves of it...

EDIT: I also looked up my cousin's (and grandmother's) neighborhood to see the concentration of offenders, since she's got a little boy. There were 25 registered offenders within a one-mile radius. I'm going to tell her about it when I can and let her know where she can look these things up for herself.

When I told my mom about these results, she asked about her area. I could only check her zip code in Georgia - not as narrow as I'd hoped, but thirty-one offenders in an entire area code was a little better than the thirty-four or so in a one-mile radius.

Either way, it's information worth knowing, in my opinion.

5 comments:

Michael May said...

Yup. The information is out there for anyone who wants it. I'm pretty sure that legally, it has to be.

Unfortunately, our neighborhood gets a lot of sex offenders moving in. None especially close to our house, but still in the neighborhood. One of the disadvantages of our refusal to move to the suburbs, I guess.

The good news is that we're on an email list that not only announces whenever an offender is moving in, but also tells us when and where the public meeting is that'll give us more info if we want it.

I imagine that most communities have a meeting like that (if not an email list) that folks can go to if they're interested. For us, it's sufficient right now that we know where the offenders live.

West said...

I like the e-mail option. Sounds convenient.

I don't recall which state you're in but some of them have websites that I have a hard time navigating. Georgia seems to have the option to search a given zip code, but not to search within a certain radius of one's home.

Hopefully, it's just user error because I think that people want to know about their neighborhood more than their zip code.

I just want to know where they are, how close they are, and which ones have a bad history with kids.

B. Good said...

Wow. This is wild, because I JUST went and looked up registered sex offenders in my area yesterday (or the day before), and I've never done that before. And now you mention it today (or yesterday, whatever).

Anyways, yeah, I was kinda blown away by the site and the information available. I had to stop myself from spending too much time reading and looking up everyone's business. It was creepy and pretty sad.

Keith said...

I keep such a short "leash" on my four year old these day that I never really thought about it. But I should probably get in the habit now of knowing such things because as he gets older he's going to have to be allowed to live. Thanks for the reminder that we should use our resources.

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