Parolee Arrests Increase in Rockford

Rockford police arrested more criminals out on parole last week than they have for months.

And the police chief says that's a disturbing trend.

Rockford police arrested eight parolees last week for a variety of crimes.

Including burglary, theft, and drug violations.

They normally arrest two or three.

And the Chief says parole violators bump up Rockford's crime rate.

"It's a high risk pool of individuals that are having an impact on our increase of our crimes this year."

There's 800 parolees living in Rockford right now.

And federal statistics say each has a two out of three chance of committing a new crime.

The criminals re-arrested most, robbers, burglars, and thieves.

"If we see an upsurge in residential burglaries, we start knocking on the doors and talking to people that are on parole for burglaries, we see an upsurge in robberies we're out talking with people that are on."

A parole violation doesn't automatically send someone back to prison. The state's prisoner review board will meet and weigh the violation against other information. And the state's attorney still has to prove the case in court. Mayor Larry Morrissey says ex-cons need a better re-entry program.

"Something coming out of the jail system where we want to stay on the right path is given the type of incentives to do that but also know that they're being watched."

The mayor has called for more cooperation and scrutiny between the courts and the police department. And he says that's happening.

"We have made progress in recent weeks talking to our partners at the local level and ultimately having a plan for talking to our partners at the state level."

But the chief says there's a quick solution.

"We feel that all 800 people should be on electronic monitoring."

Epperson says it's unacceptable for parolees to roam freely in Rockford.

"We should know everywhere they go, we should know exactly what they're doing, and we should have that intelligence information as a police agency to control that high risk population."

About 80 percent of the parolees in Rockford committed their original crime here.

And they come back to the city because they have family and other connections here.

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