Monday, June 2, 2014

forcing failure to register in Chicago

In Chicago, sex offenders waiting to register are routinely turned away and told to come back another day because the police are too busy to register them. In March, WBEZ reporter Rob Wildeboer wrote about the practice. 11:45 a.m., a man comes out of the registry office and tells Wright and the two dozen other men who have been waiting in the cold all morning, that they won’t be able to register today. But then it gets weirder. The police department employee tells the men they can sign a list that will prove they showed up today to register but then he tells them that even if they’re on the list, they can still be arrested for failing to register.

In a written statement, Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police, said the list is collected and the department “proactively sends their names to Illinois State Police … to minimize any potential criminal registration problems for the individuals.”

Of course letting the men actually register would be an even more effective way to minimize registration problems. For clarity, I asked Collins several times, aren’t the men at risk of being arrested? He simply [re-sent] a portion of his written statement.
Sex offenders TRY to register, are not allowed to, and yet they can be--and ARE--arrested for failure to register.

In a recent follow-up piece, Wildeboer talks about the sex offenders who are arrested for failure to register.
...police records show that Jerome Sanders, a homeless man, was turned away from the registration office because, not surprisingly, he didn’t have the hundred dollar fee sex offenders have to pay once a year. He was arrested less than two weeks later, February 3, for failure to register and is in the county jail, where he’s costing taxpayers $143 a day.

Or take Larry Hill. He went to police headquarters March 4, 5, 6 and 7. The records show that each time the Chicago police refused to register him because they were too busy. Finally on March 10 he made it into the office and he was arrested because something called an investigative alert had been issued for him. The Chicago police had been looking for this guy and for a week he’d been standing in a line outside CPD headquarters.

Just one more example: On March 4 Robert Mitchell went to register and was turned away. He returned on the 5th but police failed to register him again. The note on the police sign in log says he was turned away because he needed a sign language interpreter. So he wasn’t registered. He’s since been arrested and is now in jail for failure to register.
Taxpayers need to know how their money is spent. Incarcerating people for years because they were not allowed to register is very expensive.

Wildeboer further investigated the practice of collecting the names of those who were turned away "to minimize any potential criminal registration problems for the individuals." 
As officers turned offenders away, they wrote down the names of the offenders who had shown up. Using the Freedom of Information Act, WBEZ got copies of those lists. The lists have fields for name, date, time, several other things and then one space for “reason for being turned away.” In the first three months of this year the office turned people away 601 times, and in that space for the reason it put “capacity.”
Glad to see that the police are trying to help these guys out by letting the State Patrol know why they haven't registered...and then we read:
According to Tracie Newton with the Illinois State Police, which maintains the sex offender registration, that list from CPD is absolutely useless. Newton says CPD just started sending lists over one day without any discussion or explanation and there’s nothing in the statutes that allows the state police to do anything with the lists.
There is a very large part of the story missing: the scary part where we hear about all the new sex offenses committed by the offenders who did not register. That's because that is not part of the story. Sex offenders, registered or not, only rarely commit new sex offenses.

The Chicago police probably have a few reasons they are willing to let sex offenders leave without registering: one, they are deliberately setting the sex offenders up for failure to register arrest, or two,  they know full well that letting the offenders go home without registering is not a danger to the community safety.

A third possibility seems more likely. The police have been taught that it is acceptable to treat sex offenders as if they are subhuman, that the lives of sex offenders are something to toy with, that the effect on families of sex offenders is not worth considering.

Protect and serve? Not in Chicago. Believing that this kind of deliberate disregard happens only in Chicago is almost certainly a mistake.

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