Bloomington Police Officer Shawn Albert currently tracks roughly 200 Bloomington residents on two state mandatory registrations.
One is for those convicted of sex crimes, which Albert said constitutes 90 percent of the register. The second falls under the title "Murderer and Violent Offenders Against Youth” registration.
“The purpose of the registration list is to give information to law enforcement as to where these individuals are (located), and in the case of sex offenders, give information to the public as to where these individuals may be,” said Albert.
So who goes on the list? “Murder” is defined as someone convicted of murder in a court of law. Meaning: Not manslaughter or homicide.
Who is considered a violent offender?
“That’s someone who has committed a qualifying crime against a child,” said Albert. “An aggravated battery against a child; for example a shaken baby death. Unlawful restraint, kidnapping, abducting and luring of children are someone who would find themselves included on this list.”
An adult who committed a “violent offense” (as defined above) against an adult would not be included on the registration, unless they were convicted of murder. They would then be included on the “murder” portion of the registry.
Albert said technically a person could commit crimes which would make them eligible for both lists. For example, sex offenses by definition can be considered “violent.”
“Due to data entry constraints, the law enforcement database can only accept one crime,” said Albert. “If they’ve committed a sex crime, they will default to the sex offender list, and their other acts will be listed as a portion of the registration. But they will be primarily listed as a sex offender.”
Albert said his experience has shown that an offender listed on a single registration is helpful to both law enforcement and offenders.
“If he had to be listed on multiple registrations, he could be in there (police station) all the time on different dates, and it cuts down the number of times we have to enter the information. It also makes it clear the offender has one day to show up, rather than multiple,” said Albert, alluding to the state mandated annual re-registration. Some convictions require a 90-day re-registration period, including those convicted of an “aggravated” crime and/or they’ve received a conviction for violation of sex offender registration in the past.
Access to the lists vary. For example, Albert said the names of those adjudicated for crimes as a juvenile are generally not available to the public, though law enforcement has access to the names. However, if a juvenile is convicted as an adult, that person’s name is available to the public. For example, a 14-year-old convicted as an adult for murder will appear on the list.
More Offenders In Bloomington?
Albert said the roughly 200 offenders tracked by Bloomington police is higher per-capita than similar sized Illinois cities. By comparison, Town of Normal Director of Comminations Dan Irvin says Normal is currently tracking 39 residents. Albert guesses the array of sex offender services offered in Bloomington plays a role in that city's higher rate.
“There are some mental health programs around the state that will not accept them by default because they are sex offenders,” said Albert. “And many individuals who receive state convictions require treatment, which may bring someone into the area. And we have jobs available. The vast majority of the people registered are working someplace.”
Albert evolved into his role as sex offender compliance officer assigned to the neighborhood Focus Team while dealing with gang and drug issues on Bloomington’s west side. He said at the time, the department had officers assigned to active sex crimes but noticed nobody was assigned to continually follow up on offenders who had cycled back in the community. As he was fielding questions from neighbors, he said he began tackling that responsibility.
“The chief at that time decided it was working. In addition to that, there were mandates that said we should be going out and doing these things,” said Albert.
He said by paying attention to the registrations, discoveries have been made that perhaps prevented further crimes by especially sex offenders.
“We’ve found individuals who were volunteering as youth sports officials. We have found people volunteering doing day care as a child sex offender. We’ve found them with new victims when we’ve shown up for checks. We’ve also found volunteers in other youth groups, Boy Scouts for example. All of which are restricted if you’re a child sex offender,” said Albert.
** This story was updated to include the number of sex offenders registered with the Town of Normal.
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Albert:
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