CHICAGO — A Chicago woman has been arrested at least 396 times since 1978, including 92 times for theft and an alleged attack on a City Council member.
Over the years, Shermain Miles, 51, was arrested 65 times for disorderly conduct and 59 times for crimes related to prostitution, among other things, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (http://bit.ly/17FfjyZ). She has used at least 83 different aliases and is well known among merchants and residents in several neighborhoods on Chicago’s North Side. One florist called police about her 25 times last summer.
Miles, who is homeless, is imprisoned at the Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln. She was arrested last year after allegedly chasing down Chicago Alderman James Cappleman, which is a possible parole violation after a 2010 conviction for robbing a 75-year-old at knifepoint. She’s due before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board Tuesday. If it’s determined that she violated her parole, she will be behind bars until April 2014.
Her arrests have numbered so many that she is in the top 1 percent for all current Chicago Police Department arrestees. Within the last year all her cases have been assigned to a one community-based prosecutor.
Miles declined a jailhouse interview with the newspaper after initially agreeing to one. In a handwritten letter to the newspaper before the scheduled interview she described her faith and said she was looking forward to telling her story.
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Miles has spent time in area mental hospitals and participated in several community programs. Court-appointed psychologists said Miles believes people are trying to harm her.
One of her friends, Phelps Holmes, 59, described her as kind and generous. Holmes, who was once also homeless, said she didn’t talk much about her past.
“She’s always been a sweet young lady to me,” he said.
However, Cappleman said Miles can’t be released from prison without a “highly structured” plan.
“For the sake of Ms. Miles and the community, it’s time to take the next step to ensure the community is no longer terrorized by her behavior,” the alderman wrote in a letter to the review board.
Mujo Cesic, who authorities said Miles held at knifepoint, said he wants to see her stay behind bars.
“She should never be released,” he said.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Miles has at least 73 convictions, but often failed to appear in court.
Fabio Valentini, head of Cook County’s criminal prosecutions bureau, defended his office’s handling of Miles’ recent cases.
He said that when she’s been charged with a felony — 10 times — she has been convicted. He added that within the last year, her cases were assigned to a one prosecutor available to talk to the public and authorities about her activities.