Philly has fewer sex offenders than other big cities

A new study shows a majority of Philadelphians live within about half a mile from a registered sex offender.  That may sound bad, but, the researcher behind the study says Philadelphia actually has fewer offenders per capita compared to other major cities.

David Blair is the Director of Research and Development for RecordsFerret.com, a public records website that does things like help people run background checks and search for lost relatives. 

He said mapping known offenders’ addresses produced interesting results in our region when you look at the ratio of general population to registered offenders.

“Any city in Delaware is going to be pretty bad.  Wilmington’s is 174 to 1, New Castle’s 49 to 1.  Camden was 518 to one.  The higher the number, the better.  Philadelphia has 780 residents to every one sex offender so as a major city, it fares out decently compared to places in South Jersey or Delaware,” said Blair.

Blair said he isn’t sure why there is such a disparity.  He said a goal of Records Ferret is to allow people to be aware of who lives in their neighborhood, including criminal convictions.

In terms of offenders living in Philadelphia, the ratio is better then other East Coast cities. Baltimore has a ratio of 302 residents for every sex offender, more than double Philadelphia’s. Washington D.C. checks in at 681 to 1.

Jackie Block Goldstein is Associate Director at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that provides forensic interviews and victim support services to children who alledge sexual abuse. 

“You shouldn’t rely just on where there are registered sex offenders in proximity to your home because so many of the cases that we see involve offenders who have never been registered, who have never been convicted,” said Block Goldstein.

Block Goldstein warned parents should remain vigilant and talk to children about ways to protect themselves from sexual predators.

Nearly 90 percet of all Philadephians live within half a mile of a registered sex offender, according to the new study, which is based upon criminal records from 2012 and 2013.  The study mapped known offenders to their addresses in Philadelphia, and then used that information combined with census and public records to determine how many residents lived near a sex offender.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.