A decade after the enactment of Megan’s Law, dangerous holes in New York State’s sex offender warning system leave families who live in neighborhoods crawling with convicted predators unaware who lives next door, says the New York Daily News. No neighborhoody without a psychiatric ward or jail has more offenders than Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 31 Level 3 convicts – the worst of the worst – live, an analysis of state data by the Daily News reveals. Many parents in the Brooklyn neighborhood have no idea that the convicts. “There are child molesters in the neighborhood? I thought they were supposed to tell us,” said Shayla McKinnon, 30, after being told about the violent offenders in her zip code.
The sex offenders’ home addresses, mug shots, and details of their criminal histories are displayed on the state’s online sex offender registry, a rogues’ gallery of 5,493 high-level predators. Many convicts easily blend back into society because Megan’s Law does not require a uniform system for notifying neighbors when predators move to an area. The state law was bolstered just last week to prevent thousands of offenders from dropping off the public registry. It still allows local law enforcement agencies to decide whether and how to inform the public. In New York City, police notify the Education Department about high-risk offenders, then school principals determine how best to tell parents. Gov. George Pataki has proposed making community notification a requirement – not an option. Advocates with Parents for Megan’s Law are working with Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. to create a system similar to Long Island’s, where parents get an e-mail alert whenever a moderate- or high-risk sex fiend moves into their neighborhoods.