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.