The parolees complain they have to wait months or more before a therapist deems them fit to see their own children — and can’t even speak to them by phone before then.
CHICAGO (CN) — Sex offenders on supervised release argued before a Seventh Circuit panel Thursday that Illinois’ policy limiting when they can see their children is unconstitutional and should be overturned.
The parolees filed a class action against the Illinois Department of Corrections in 2018 over a policy that forbade sex offenders from contacting their children in any capacity for at least six months after their release from prison.
A federal judge found the policy violates the parolees’ right to due process and granted them a preliminary injunction in June 2018.
The Department of Corrections then implemented a new policy, which the class said still operates as a presumptive ban on sex offenders seeing their children. The federal judge disagreed and upheld the new policy.
The new policy stipulates that people on supervised release can request to see their children, but they must first see a sex offender therapist within two weeks of their release from prison. The class appealed to the Seventh Circuit.
“Within 21 days of the initial appointment, the therapist and the parole agent ‘will determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the parolee’s child(ren) would be endangered by parent-child contact with the parolee,’” the parolees say in their appellate brief.
On Thursday, the parolees’ attorney Adele Nicholas told a three-judge panel that the new policy still prevents parents from seeing their children for months or years at a time. She said this is partially because the Department of Corrections does not have any way to guarantee therapists can see people on supervised release in 14 days, as it can’t control therapists’ schedules.