June 24, 2014

Chicago police easing registration process for sex offenders

6-24-2014 Illinois:

Illinois legislators love to pass laws to punish sex offenders. But those laws always increase restrictions. No legislator wants to decrease restrictions on sex offenders, because that would not look good on a mailer by an opponent in the next election.

The result is that Illinois has an increasingly complex matrix of laws restricting sex offenders. Some of those laws may actually make it harder for police to keep track of people convicted of sex crimes. The complex laws have resulted in a confusing mess at the Chicago police headquarters where offenders trying to register have been turned away because police just can’t keep up. That’s got some in the criminal justice system rethinking procedures and the laws themselves.

For the past few months WBEZ has been reporting on problems at Chicago Police Department headquarters, where police records show the department turned men away 600 times in the first three months of the year. Our previous stories can be heard here and here and here.

Those same records show offenders were turned away another 300 times because they didn’t have ID or the hundred dollar fee they have to pay every year.

John Escalante is chief of detectives for Chicago police and he oversees the criminal registration office, which is responsible for registering sex offenders. I asked him if he was surprised by the number of men turned away.

He hesitates and speaks slowly when he answers, “Somewhat, but I’d have to look at them a little bit more in more detail to be honest with you. It does seem somewhat high, but again if we went through it case by case there might logical and legitimate explanations for it.”

CPD making registration easier for sex offenders

Nonetheless, Escalante says his office is trying to make improvements. He unfolds a poster and puts it on the desk in the press office at police headquarters where I interviewed him a couple weeks ago.

“A larger form of this, a couple of these are being, produced right now by our graphic arts and reproduction section. This, by the end of the week, I would be willing to bet a paycheck, this will be posted. They’re being laminated today,” said Escalante.

I should have taken the bet because the poster wasn’t up, though when I stopped by last Friday a sheet of paper with the information was hanging on the glass door. ..Continued.. by Rob Wildeboer

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