PA: Scranton ordinance on where registered sex offenders can live remains contrary to court decision

Source: wfmz.com 12/17/22

SCRANTON — At 17, Zachary Pluko saw his future in the military or law enforcement.

At 29, the vision is a memory.

Pluko works at a Turkey Hill store to cover the monthly $600 rent he pays for a room on Moir Court. He and six other residents of 839-841 Moir Court mostly keep to themselves but they all share something in common: they’re registered sex offenders.

Their residence, about 940 feet from a school, is contrary to an unenforced Scranton ordinance that remains part of the city code more than a decade after a state Supreme Court decision invalidated the premise of a similar local law near Pittsburgh — forbidding sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of schools, among other places children congregate. Asked about the zombie ordinance, city officials said they are looking into whether to rescind or amend the language.

“As written, it won’t stand,” first assistant city solicitor Andrew Cutillo said.

Pluko, convicted in 2011 of rape, and other registered sex offenders often live and work where they can and with those who will have them. Sometimes, that brings them close to schools. Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law, under which the identities and residences of sexual offenders are tracked and published, does not restrict where they can live.

“I made a mistake,” Pluko said. “I was a stupid teenager at the time it happened and now that I look back at it I say I was dumb, stupid. There’s so many things I could have done with my life. They’ve all been crushed because of something I did. Now I have to build myself from the ground up to become a productive member of society again.”

Pluko is one of about 200 sex offenders with an address registered in Scranton that is not a hospital, shelter or state-run halfway house, according to a review of the state’s Megan’s Law database. Of those, 152 live within 2,500 feet of a Scranton School District school.

“As we do not control where Megan’s Law registrants may reside, we practice wide-span information dissemination, aggressive vetting of school visitors and situational awareness concerning persons observed on or near school property,” according to a district statement.

The sex offender registry, however, is always in flux and state police caution that some of it may be out of date.

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I thought the PA registry was deemed unconstitutional?

“The sex offender registry, however, is always in flux and state police caution that some of it may be out of date.”..Then get it in flux and up to date! Law Enforcement generally is in favor of the registries so move other resources to this much needed public safety tool (sarcasm)..the Police can certainly move much less needed resources such as robbery, homicide, drug enforcement, straight to the Sex Offender Registry Dept. Because…if it saves one child…

The constitution provides two authorities, no more no less. And you wonder why we see so much chaos. I again bemoan the virtue signaling of Smith V Doe03. That decision cemented the virtue of database in the fabric of American culture. How hollow does the phrase to protect our most vulnerable ring given the current cultural evidence available concerning the internet ( DDI) and criminality by the people and the police state. These outcomes were inevitable precisely because of the Doe rulings. If for no other reason the US constitution was written specifically to decentralised gov powers, while the DDI unrelentingly progress toward the inverse disposition.
Good luck with that.

I live about 20 miles from Scranton PA. I am no longer on the registry though. When I decided to buy my house in this town back in 2014 I contacted about 10 different officials including the police chief here in town and no one would give me a straight answer as to whether I could legally live in the house I wanted to buy. They all seemed to not know what the law was back then but did of course discourage me from moving here.

My Town Counsil’s Supervisor – When I moved into my newly purchased house it did not take long for my neighbors to start giving me the “snub”. I live on a deadend street and of all things one of my neighbors was the town counsil’s supervisor who made it his life’s mission to make my life miserable. He called the cops on me for every little thing and had the town code enforcement officer send me letters for every little thing about my house that he could think of. Things faded away as he got voted out of office. One neighbor and his wife are nice to me. Wave as they drive by to their home up the road and have stopped to chitchat with me in a friendly way.

My concern when I first wanted to buy this house was that there is a school that may have fallen within 1000 foot limit. I was not sure back in 2014 if there was such a law or ordinance of where I could live but bought the house anyway and then found out there was none.

Before I bought this house I lived in a boarding house in Chester County. The landlord and his wife were very nice people and rented to parolees but rented mainly to sex offenders. They believed in second chances and were very friendly to all of us in the boarding house who all happened to be registrants. He also owned some other singe family homes that he also rented to registrants. He never had one single problem with any of them. Actually he preferred to rent to registrants because he said they appreciated what he and his wife did by giving them a safe place to live and they in return show a lot of respect back to him and his wife and take excellent care of his properties in appreciation.

It’s hard to find landlords who are willing to rent to registrants but they are out there.

I don’t know how some PA communities get away with this. The 2500 foot ordinance here in Pittsburgh got overturned a long time ago by a district court. I remember when it happened because it gave me more breathing room to live where I want. If Allegheny County got the message, then why can’t President Joe’s hometown do the right and legal thing.

Posted this on the site:

A noticeably absent statistic is the number of sex crimes committed by these registrants since moving there. I’m guessing that is because it would diminish the story’s effort to incite alarm (if not panic).”

Posted something similar yesterday, but it never got up. Could have been an issue with registering on he site so I could comment, but may have been moderated out because I also included a challenge to the author to answer that question. We’ll know for sure if they don’t post again.