BRADDOCK (KDKA) — Imagine living next to a dozen Megan’s Law sex offenders, some convicted of molesting or raping a child and others for possessing or producing child pornography.
If you click on the Megan’s Law website, you’ll find that nine such offenders are currently or were recently housed at Gateway Braddock, which is a halfway house where released convicts can get drug and alcohol treatment.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “So, this place is supposed to be for non-violent offenders. Is it?”
Sheldon Stoudemire: “Supposed to be.”
Stoudemire’s house is just across the street, but he’s less concerned for himself than with the children who play in the playground down the hill or at the basketball courts nearby.
“I think it’s a crying shame that they would have sex offenders where there is playground and the kids are walking around here. I think it’s a crying shame,” said Stoudemire.
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman wasn’t even aware of his town’s newest residents until I showed him those listed on the website.
They include Donald Crawley, a former fugitive from justice who was convicted of the rape of a child.
Justin Kirkham, convicted of statutory sexual assault and videotaping minors engaging in sexual acts.
Also, Nicholas Majercik, convicted of luring a child into a motor vehicle and raping a child.
“It’s no place to warehouse sexual offenders,” says Fetterman. “They’re not equipped for that, there’s inadequate supervision, there’s not even notification of our police department that you have a documented tier three child predator.”
The Gateway Rehabilitation Institute, which runs the halfway house, says it is under contract with the state and has no say on just who is placed there.
That’s done by the Department of Corrections, which defends the placements as a way to ease the offenders back into society.
In a statement, Corrections Dept. officials say the facility provides 24-hour security, curfews, drug and alcohol testing, and that there have been no community-related incidents.
The statement reads:
“More than 90 percent of incarcerated individuals return to the community one day, regardless of the crimes for which they were sentenced. There are sex offenders who require transfer through a community corrections center. These individuals are highly supervised as they work to rebuild family support, find jobs and pay taxes, with goal of successful transition to community.”
In the struggling Borough of Braddock, residents wonder why it’s on their shoulders to carry so much of that burden.
Stoudemire: “If this was Squirrel Hill, Upper St. Clair, Fox Chapel, this wouldn’t even exist here, but since it’s Braddock, this is what they do.”
Sheehan: “They put anyone here.”
Stoudemire: “They don’t care. They don’t live here.”