BINGHAMTON, New York – Welcome to Sex Offender TV.
A new show on public-access cable television features resident sex offenders with their photo, name and address and the ages and genders of their victims. "Sex Offender Community Update" debuts Monday.
Officials behind the idea say they do not know of other U.S. cities or stations that have taken this approach.
"The main purpose of this television program is to make the information more easily available and accessible, not to warn about a specific individual," a disclaimer says at the start of the 30-minute show.
"The sex offenders are going to have more notoriety because of it," City Councilman Chris Papastrat said. But he added the program, which will be broadcast regularly to 72,000 households, is not meant to ruin anyone's life.
But Robin McGinnis says it could. The president of the national Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers says the broadcast will only cause more anxiety for offenders and others.
"I think it's just panicking the community even more," McGinnis said by phone Sunday. "Sex offenders have become the lepers of the community. I don't see how we expect sex offenders to rehab if we continue to push and push them."
The vast majority of sex offenders molest their own children and are not hanging out in parks and attacking people, she said. "Yes, they should be held accountable, but such a small number are truly dangerous in the community."
Monday's show features only Level 3 offenders, which the state classifies as having the highest risk of offending again. Papastrat says the city has about 50 such offenders.
The show's information also can be found on the Internet, by phone or from school officials. Papastrat said officials were looking for an inexpensive way to reach the most people, since school officials said mailing fliers regularly to residents had become expensive.