LEGISLATION TO CURB SEX OFFENDER CLUSTERS
Mastic residents claim they have seen dramatic changes in their neighborhood and said they have had enough. The breaking point came when residents discovered that, at a home at 115 Eleanor Avenue, four registered, level three offenders were living under the same roof. On August 28, in response to the citizen's complaints, Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) held a press conference to announce a proposal that would prevent Suffolk County's Department of Social Services, or any contract agencies that work in conjunction with the department, from placing more than one sex offender in a home. According to Laura Ahearn, the executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, as of August 28 there were 828 registered sex offenders in Suffolk County, with a proportionately higher number in areas like Mastic and Shirley. On Eleanor Avenue, Ahearn said that all four of the residents are categorized as level three sex offenders, which is the most dangerous type, and means that all four will be on the sex offender registry for life. However, three of the four have completed their probation and are no longer being monitored by the county. Because the current law states that there shall be no more than one offender on probation per address, situations similar to the one at this home become more commonplace. She noted that there is one reason in particular that can explain the increase of offenders in the are. We've found that sex offenders are gravitating towards communities with affordable housing, she said. The landlords don't mind profiting off of placing these people in the communities and it's not right. She used the example of the Gordon Heights neighborhood to explain this trend, as she noted that there are 45 registered sex offenders within a one mile radius in the area. The problem, she added, is compounded because families with young children reside in many of these communities. The large population of sex offender need not be in a neighborhood where there are children congregating all over the place, Ahearn said. Ahearn thinks that Browning's proposal is the first step towards getting rid of what several residents believe is a growing problem.