Thousands of people in Chicago are on a criminal conviction registry, including registries for gun crimes, sex offenses and murder and violence against youth. People on the registry have to show up yearly, quarterly or weekly or risk getting locked-up. But WBEZ has found men are repeatedly being turned away because of staffing shortages in the Chicago Police Department’s registry office.
Data from public records show CPD routinely registered more than 1,000 people per month in 2018. By the end of 2022, that number had been cut nearly in half.
The team that registers people is “a unit that for some reason the Chicago Police Department, especially the bureau detectives, who oversee this unit, do not care if it succeeds. And right now it is failing,” said Patty Casey, a former Chicago Police Commander who oversaw the registries until she retired in June 2021.
Casey called the situation inhumane — and said people who are trying to comply with the law should be able to do that.
Madeleine Behr, the policy manager at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation which provides free legal services for victims of sexualized violence, said CAASE clients sometimes call detectives assigned to their cases and detectives tell them they can’t meet because they are busy doing compliance checks. She said those detectives are busy re-arresting people for technical violations, such as failing to update an address, instead of interviewing victims who need immediate help.