Illinois sex offender housing laws, enacted over the past decade with the goal of protecting the public, may be having the opposite effect, says the Chicago Tribune. Thousands of sex offenders have remained in prison for parole and then been returned to the streets without oversight or treatment. These offenders are less likely to register their addresses than those serving tightly monitored paroles in the community. They also are more likely to reoffend, sometimes repeating the same sex crimes.
Of the 1,292 sex offenders discharged in fiscal 2008 after serving parole behind bars, 28 percent were listed as missing, not having registered their address or not being up-to-date with their registrations, compared with 23 percent of the 1,868 sex offenders paroled into the community. Another 21 percent of discharged offenders returned to prison, a slightly higher rate than those who were paroled. In most cases, offenders monitored in the community were sent back to prison for technical parole violations, in many cases housing-related problems, while the discharged offenders were convicted of new crimes. Sex offender housing restrictions have long been criticized by civil liberties advocates, who argue that it’s unjust to banish any segment of society, and by criminal justice experts, who say it’s more productive and cost-effective for offenders to undergo parole supervision and treatment in the community.