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Should Sex Offenders’ Homes be Restricted?

March 29, 2009

Pennlive.com : Should Sex Offenders’ Homes be Restricted?

Bryan Conrad, 35, works three jobs and has a girlfriend. He lives in Lemoyne. “I’m here,” he said. “I’m settled.”
But he lives closer than 300 feet from Lemoyne Middle School, a problem for Conrad. He’s a registered sex offender.

He’s in violation of an ordinance passed by the Lemoyne Borough Council in 2007. The ordinance prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 500 feet of places such as day care centers, parks and schools. Conrad has been living in Lemoyne since October, his house cater-corner from the middle school on a stretch of Market Street.

Conrad is an example of a growing dispute in Pennsylvania. More towns are passing ordinances restricting sex offenders from living near schools and parks, and some towns are being sued over the laws.

As he shoved his hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt, Conrad said he didn’t know about the ordinance when he moved in. “Why would I take the chance?” he said. The violation was discovered by a resident. The resident has a son who walks to Lemoyne Middle School each day and said he wanted to remain anonymous to protect himself and his family from any possible retaliation. (anonymous? Perhaps this resident should be posted on an online registry)

Once every couple of months, the resident checks the state’s Megan’s Law list, a Web site that shows the photos and addresses of registered sex offenders, he said. Megan’s Law seeks to protect the public, especially children, from sex offenders by listing their locations and alerting communities to sex offenders in their neighborhoods, according to the Web site.

He brought his concerns to the West Shore Regional Police Department on Wednesday. He stressed that he did not intend to harass Conrad. He just wants to protect his children.

“It was five minutes of stupidity, and I walked away. But it was too late,” Conrad said last week.
“Is it ever going to be in the past?” he asked.

Even officials and concerned parents are conflicted about these ordinances.

“That’s really a double-edged sword,” said Lt. Douglas Grimes, the commander of the state police Megan’s Law unit. “There are good things and bad things that come out of these residency restrictions.”
Of course, nobody wants a registered sex offender near a school, he said. But too much restriction can concentrate several sex offenders in one area, he said.

“It was a lapse in judgment,” Conrad said of his offense. “I pay for it every day, and here I’m going to pay for it again.”

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