CHICAGO (CBS) — Sex offenders in Chicago are getting a literal get-out-of-jail-free card in some cases.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, they have a grace period to update their addresses on the sex offender registry. And as CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Thursday, that is not sitting well with some victims at all.
One woman, Michelle, asked us to conceal her identity – because right now, she fears for her safety.
“Because he has a history of violent behavior,” Michelle said.
She said she was dating a 43-year-old Chicago man for at least two months before she discovered the extent of his sexual predator rap sheet.
When he became violent with her, they broke up.
The man was registered to a Franciscan Outreach shelter on the city’s West Side, but then she heard from a caseworker that he was moved to another facility.
His registration was never updated.
“You know, I’m so shocked,” Michelle said. “I’m laughing.”
In the State of Illinois, failing to update registration for a sex offender is a Class 3 felony. But right now in Chicago, it’s not.
We looked into it and here’s why – the Criminal Registration Unit, located inside Chicago Public Safety Headquarters, has been closed since March 13. So convicted sex offenders are getting a grace period, and they do not have update their registration until it reopens.
Chicago Police said officers have also been directed not to arrest an individual solely for being late to register “due to the present circumstance.”
Michelle is not a fan of the policy.
“Chicago’s definitely giving him a free pass, and it makes me wonder who’s at the top making this decision,” she said.
With other parts of the city reopening, Michelle feels like it’s time for a socially distant solution to this registry lapse.
“I really want to know why? Why?” Michelle said. “Why it hasn’t been open?”
The CPD said the reopening date for the Criminal Registration Unit is “still to be determined until it is safe for everyone.” The Mayor’s office referred questions on the matter to the CPD.
The department said Criminal Registration Unit staff will be on premise for district support and to answer questions at (312) 745-5075.
Further, the CPD while officers are not arresting people who are late to register, “(a)ll other Violations of the Sex Offender Registration act or Criminal Registration Acts concerning convicted Arsonist, Gun offenders, or Violent Crimes against Children Offenders are being enforced.”
Criminal registrants have been told in writing that they are to update their registration within one week of when the unit reopens, the CPD said.
We will, of course, keep following up.