NEW YORK: DOWNSIDE OF REGISTRIES: HARASSMENT, VIGILANTISM
Ten years ago state sex offender registries were established to allow residents to locate sex offenders in the neighborhoods. But some experts worry the registries also allow those who loathe the presence of sex offenders to take matters into their own hands. In May, two registered sex offenders in a rural Main community were shot and killed by a 20 year old man who used the state's online registry to track them. In 2005, a man in Washington state shot and killed two Level 3 sex offenders after locating their addresses on the sheriff's Web site. Last month, Mastic resident Donald Keegan, 36, was arrested and charged with planning to burn down a house on Eleanor Avenue and kill the four Level 3 sex offenders who live there. Sex offenders are living in our communities and we have to accept that fact, said Laura Ahearn of the Stony Brook-based advocacy group Parents for Megan's Law. But the registry is not a tool to commit crimes or harass sex offenders. It's an opportunity to be made aware so you can protect your children.