April 8, Chicago, Il
After his prison sentence came to an end in April 2007, child sex predator Ronald Dubbins was supposed to undergo one year of tightly controlled supervision as he transitioned back home -- with electronic monitoring, mandatory therapy and frequent meetings with a parole officer.This sounds more and more like a 21st century Scarlet Letter.
But because he could not find a place to live that met Illinois' ever-expanding sex offender housing restrictions, Dubbins served parole behind bars and then was released into Cook County without monitoring.
Faced with complete freedom, he quickly returned to his predatory ways, attempting to lure young children into his Berwyn apartment for sex, court records show.
Dubbins' case illustrates a growing danger in Illinois. A Tribune review has found that the state's sex offender housing laws, enacted over the past decade with the goal of protecting the public, may be having the opposite effect.
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, the review found.
When sex offenders serve parole in the community, they must wear electronic monitoring devices, participate in weekly counseling and undergo other strict monitoring.
Those who serve parole behind bars are not required to undergo counseling (most don't, Williams-Schafer said), and their length of parole can be cut in half due to "good time" credit applicable to inmates -- as was the case with Dubbins. Once the parole comes to an end, the prison has no legal means to keep or monitor them once they are out.