Lisa Parsley found yesterday that her small zip code in South Philadelphia contains 50 convicted sex offenders, their names and crimes listed on a new Megan’s Law Web site run by the state police. “Was I shocked? Yeah,” said Parsley, 39. “Especially when I looked at the pictures. I thought, I’ve seen some of these guys hanging around.” Parsley was among the tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents who logged on to the site yesterday seeking information about local registered sex offenders. Overnight, the state outed more than 7,000 registered sex offenders, raising questions and concerns among the general public and among offenders who do not want their pictures, hometowns, and criminal history on the Internet.
By mid-afternoon yesterday, 32,000 people had visited the Web site. Civil liberties groups and public defenders are concerned about vigilantism, which made headlines in Megan’s Law’s home state of New Jersey. Since that state law’s passage in 1994, there have been several incidents involving angry residents harassing and even assaulting freed sex offenders.