Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Any Sexual Predators Next Door?

Each of the states plus the District of Columbia maintains a sex offender registry. I checked out Illinois's registry once, after reading an article about people's reaction when they found out a neighbor of their's was a sex offender. (The reaction was so negative -- I recall they even demonstrated in front of this man's house -- that he moved out of the neighborhood.)

I've been hearing more about these registries in the news recently and decided to check them out again. A Google search for "sex offender registry" yielded New York, Michigan, and Illinois as the top three results. I've been a residence in two of those states and am well acquainted with the third, so the results disturbed me a little. It'd be interesting to figure out why exactly those three states lead the search results. Maybe the fact that New York City and Chicago -- two of the biggest cities in the nation -- are in two of those states makes residents more concerned about their neighbors and thus those state registries more popular. Maybe the residents of those cities are more educated, keep up with the news, have easy Internet access, and respond the same way I do when they hear these stories about sex offenders in one's neighborhood.

I didn't look at the New York state registry because you have to give them personal information to access it. I looked at Illinois's again, however, and found a sex offender registered at an address where I'd been living a year ago. The guy is a white male, only a year older than me, convicted of "criminal sexual abuse" of a victim between 13 and 17 and "indecent solicitation of a child." It's scary to think that I might have passed this guy in the hall and even said hi to him because he looks so normal and clean in his mug shot, like someone I might even be friends with.

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