A study conducted by public records website RecordsFerret.com has revealed that 87 percent of Philadelphians live within a half mile of a registered sex offender.
"We expected between 20 to 30 percent of residents to live near offenders, given the ratio of approximately 781 residents for every one sex offender in Philadelphia," RecordsFerret research and development director David Blair said in an email. "But the saturation across the entire city was surprising, to say the least."
The study, based on a combination of criminal records from 2012 through 2013 and census results, was completed in Philadelphia as a pilot to see how the site's data sources fared in a major urban area. Researchers hope to roll out the study nationwide within the next few weeks.
"Sex offenders are a very small part of the population and we expected them to be in low income areas, but it just wasn't the case," Blair said of the Philadelphia findings.
"I think they're more spread out for all sorts of reasons, but it may be that the average Philadelphia sex offender is not the same type of criminal that we're used to."
He noted that registries don't currently distinguish between violent and non-violent offenders.
Blair said he hasn't yet seen the density of sex offenders impact housing prices, but that may change as the public becomes more educated.
"Basically what we see is that most of the population doesn't think about these issues, and are not aware of the tools and resources to make it really easy to figure these things out," he said.
"I think in the future as more people become aware of the issues and as the tools become more ubiquitous, it will definitely start to affect where people choose to live and property values."