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Facebook App Locates Sex Offenders, Just in Time for Halloween

New York State puts entire database on Facebook

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Facebook App Locates Sex Offenders, Just in Time for Halloween
[ Social Media]

The state of New York has made its public database of registered sex offenders a little more accessible with The Sex Offender Locator app for Facebook.

Concerned parents (and curious neighbors) can now search the entire state database without leaving the cozy confines of their social networking. The list is searchable by last name, county, and zip code. Only level 2 and level 3 offenders (those designated with medium and high risk, respectively) will be visible via the Facebook app. By law, the state can only give info about level 1 offenders over the phone, and even then, the inquiring individual must have a specific identifier like a name or exact address of the possible offender.

That still gives them access to tons of names. According to the state records, there are currently 11,685 level 2 offenders and 8,163 level 3 offenders on the registry. All in all, New York state has around 33,000 registered sex offenders with 150 being added every month.

“Knowledge is power. New Yorkers now have another way to access up-to-date information about sex offenders in their neighborhoods,” DCJS (Division of Criminal Justice Services) Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne said. “With Halloween around the corner, parents now have another tool to learn where offenders live so they can ensure their children stay away from those locations, as well as strangers’ homes. The Facebook app puts that important information at parents’ fingertips, whether they are at home or on the go.”

So cautious parents have the ability to check their Halloween routes for sex offenders. The only problem with this is that there are a lot of names to go through. For instance, there are over 500 names on the list for Albany county alone. Once you click on a specific offender, you can view his current address on a map, as well as see a photo and other identifying information. But there isn’t a large map view that shows all of the registered offenders in the area. So unless you have a specific name in mind, it could take awhile.

Nonetheless, the app already has 10,000 active users and has received positive reviews so far.

Do you think that it’s good to have this type of information available on Facebook? Should other states follow suit? Or do you think that it’s a bit over the top? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook App Locates Sex Offenders, Just in Time for Halloween
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  • pachrismith

    If six-year-old Samantha Runnion’s mother had checked the California sex offender registry on July 15, 2002, it would not have listed Alejandro Avila because he had not been convicted of any sex crime. Even if it had, he lived nearly 40 miles away. But that day, with Grandma just inside the house, he kidnapped Samantha from her front yard, raped, murdered and left her body in a roadside ditch some 50 miles from her home.

    If seven-year-old Somer Thompson’s mother had checked Florida’s sex offender registry on October 19, 2009, it would have shown 161 sex offenders living within 10 miles of her home. Jarred Harrell would not have been listed because he had not been convicted of any sex crime. Somer always walked by his home with her brother, sister and some friends, but that day she ran ahead, around the corner and disappeared. Harrell is currently charged with Somer’s abduction, rape and murder.

    Jaycee Dugard’s step-father watched her walk to her school bus stop from their driveway on June 10, 1991. He saw the grey sedan turn around and go back to the stop where a woman got out, grabbed Jaycee and sped away. He just wasn’t close enough to even get the license number. Jaycee was recovered, with two daughters fathered by her kidnapper, on August 26, 2009. Phillip Garrido had traveled 117 miles to abduct her.

    “I checked a registry and didn’t see any [sex] offenders living near my home so now I feel liberated to allow my six-year old to walk down to the park a few blocks away and play as much as she wants without inconveniencing me.”(1)

    “I also felt relief knowing that none of them live on the street where I allow my children to play every single day.”(2)

    “I want to be able to let my kids go outside and play and not worry”(3)

    93% of sexually assaulted children were victimized by family (34%) or acquaintances (59%).(4) 95% arrested for sex crimes in New York have no previous conviction for any sex crime.(5) 90% in California.(6)

    Parents need to understand they cannot rely on public sex offender registries to effectively plan for the protection of their children. They must be persuaded that these registries can only provide a dangerous illusion of safety because there are none living nearby or they know where the sex offenders live. Guard your children closely!

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