Former tough-on-crime Pennsylvania State Rep. Tom Armstrong angered neighbors in Marietta, Pa., by housing three sex offenders, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m not happy having sex offenders living next to my children,” said Wendy Alkinburgh, a mother of four children younger than 7. A local zoning board ruled that Armstrong had violated an ordinance limiting the number of unrelated people who can live together; he will appeal. “These are fantastic guys,” said Armstrong, 49, a Republican who was voted out of office in 2002. “There are 160 men in state prisons that are able to come home, but they can’t because they don’t have anywhere to go,” said Armstrong, who took up the issue of prisoners’ rights after his brother was arrested for exposing himself.
In Pennsylvania, about 130 municipalities have passed residency restrictions for sex violators and many more are considering it. Opponents say those laws do nothing to increase public safety and that prisoners end up spending more time in jail because they can’t find housing. Lauren Taylor of the state’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board, said, “We really need to get our arms around the issue, so we’re looking at what really impacts public safety, not what makes us feel better,” she said. About 13,000 sex offenders in the state registered with Megan’s Law, which requires them to give their whereabouts to police, who notify the public via an online registry.