Sex offenders in Chicago’s Neighborhoods

By George Arroyo ’19, Esteven Estrada ’19, Dania Herrera ’19, Mauricio Rodriguez ’19, Atziri Tapia ’19

Chicago’s neighborhoods have been constantly surrounded by crime. Sexual assault is an important and highly talked about topic in recent months. Therefore, the Pritzker Press researched the number of registered sex offenders in four Chicago neighborhoods, which include the following: Hermosa, Belmont-Cragin, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park. The Pritzker Press chose these neighborhoods because many students that attend Pritzker live in the neighborhoods mentioned above.

The difference between a sex offender and a sexual predator is that a sex offender is convicted if he/she does the following: Indecent Solicitation of a Child;  Sexual Exploitation of a Child; Soliciting for a Juvenile Prostitute; Patronizing a Juvenile Prostitute; Criminal Sexual Assault; Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault; Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child; Criminal Sexual Abuse; Soliciting for a Prostitute; if the victim is under age 18. A sexual predator is convicted if he/she does the following: criminal Sexual Assault; if the victim is under age 12; Criminal Sexual Assault, regardless of the victim’s age (if convicted on or after January 1, 2006); Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault; Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse; Kidnapping; Unlawful Restraint; Aggravated Unlawful Restraint; and Child Abduction.

The Belmont-Cragin neighborhood is located on the  northwest side, and it is designated Community Area 19 with an area of 3.94 mi² and includes the zip codes of 60634, 60635, 60639, and 60641. Hermosa neighborhood is also located on the northwest side with an area of 1.17 mi², with a population of 25,489, and  zip codes include parts of 60639, 60641, 60647. Logan Square neighborhood is the official community area, historical neighborhood, and public square with an area of 3.23 mi² Humboldt Park is one of 77 designated community areas, located on the West Side with a population of 55,011 people and an area of 3.6 mi² and includes the zip codes of 60622, 60624, 60647, and 60651. The Pritzker Press focused on sexual offenders that were registered and whether the victims were minors, a person who is legally underage and has not yet attained the age of majority in which they are denied the ability to fully and freely contract (consent),  and adults. The data that the Pritzker Press collected was found from 2014.

The number of sex offenders in Chicago varies by the neighborhoods in the northwest  side; 30 are in Logan Square; 39 in Belmont-Cragin; 49 in Humboldt Park; and 9 in Hermosa. When looked at by density per mile, the average is 8.7 sex offenders per square mile in Humboldt Park; 5.0 sex offenders per square mile for Belmont-Cragin; 3.9 sq/m. sex offenders for Logan Square; and 3.7 sq/m. sex offenders for Hermosa. The data was also categorized by ethnicity. In which, Black made up of about 61%; White Hispanic made up of about 20%; White made up of about 17%; and Black-Hispanic and unknown made up of less than 1%. The raw data was collected using a city map of Chicago’s neighborhoods and data from the City of Chicago’s Public Safety portal. It is important to note that the information collected informs the amount of sex offenders that are registered and not necessarily the ones that are unregistered. There may be potential cases where unregistered sex offenders are still roaming the neighborhoods of Chicago without the people knowing.

The Pritzker Press obtained the perspective of the community with Leonor Bueno who is a mother that lives in the Hermosa neighborhood right next to Mozart Park. She has been living in the same neighborhood for the past twenty years since she moved from California. Bueno does not speak English and rarely communicates with her community.

When asked if she was aware of the amount of sex offenders in her neighborhood, she said in Spanish, she has no clue. Once being asked this, Bueno became more concerned and began to ask many questions in the conversation. Examples of questions that Buano said were “where exactly the sex offenders live” and “if they are still a threat to the community”.

Once being told that there are nine sex offenders in Hermosa, Bueno became frightened due to the fact that she has children and is scared that they might be harmed. Translated into English she said, “I am worried because there are many kids who come to my neighborhood and play, since there is a park right next to my house”. Bueno then emphasized how she worries about her son who goes to Pritzker College Prep and walks to school every day.

However, when being told that there are many more sex offenders in other neighborhoods she then became more anxious due to the fact that there are ten times more in other neighborhoods.

Another perspective obtained was that of Paola Diaz is a student from Pritzker College Prep who lives in the Belmont-Cragin area. She also walks to and from school on a daily basis.

Before knowing about the number of sex offenders in her area, Diaz said, “I knew that my neighborhood wasn’t always the best.” She continued to say how there have been shootings, but she never thought that actual sex offenders would live in her block. Diaz said that her neighborhood is “not a place I wanna walk around.”

Once she was told about the number of sex offenders that live in Belmont-Cragin, Diaz said, “It makes me feel scared.” She fears how she might be in the literal vicinity of a sex offender and may not even know it. In order to take precautions, Diaz mentioned that she is going to stay away from walking in the neighborhood while it is dark. Also she would take larger streets instead of smaller ones in order to have others around. Additionally, Diaz said that now she is more aware of her surroundings and “spend[s] less time” on her phone when walking.

Julian Arroyo a Pritzker College Prep alumni  is a sophomore at Northeastern Illinois University and has been living in the Logan Square neighborhood for his whole life

He, however, does not participate in his community due to the fact that he is always in school. In addition, Arroyo does not know much about the sex offenders in his neighborhood.

When being asked about how safe he feels in his neighborhood he says, “It’s a nice neighborhood, but I do not know anyone near my home. In terms of how safe the neighborhood is, I’d say it’s decent. There isn’t that much violence or disturbance.”

When being told about what he knows about the sex offenders in his community he says that he knows that there are some that live near him but does not know specifics . In addition to what he knows, he was told the amount of sex offenders in the Logan Square neighborhood, “I am actually surprised that there are that many near me. I knew that there were some in my neighborhood, but I did not think it was going to be that many. I think it’s best that we are aware of our surroundings in our neighborhood and should communicate better among ourselves are neighbors.”

It is important to actively communicate among one another in each neighborhood to get more insight in the latest news within the Chicago community.

Overall, the Pritzker Press collected various information about certain neighborhoods that students live in regarding sex offenders. Based on a variety of sources, the amount of sex offenders does seem to be high. Regardless of the amount of sex offenders within the neighborhoods, citizens are still concerned about the place they live and their safety.