Inmate may have to register as sex offender for flashing guard

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Giovanni Rios is the first Cook County Jail inmate to become a registered sex offender for activities in the jail. | Sheriff’s Office

For the first time, a Cook County Jail inmate may be required to register as a sex offender for repeatedly exposing himself to correctional officers, a sheriff’s official said Thursday.

Giovanni Rios, who is awaiting trial in a 2015 murder in Humboldt Park, was held in contempt of court Thursday by Judge Vincent Gaughan for allegedly exposing himself to a female guard on Wednesday, said Cara Smith, policy chief for Sheriff Tom Dart.

Rios, 20, a member of the Savage Life jail gang, is charged with the Wednesday incident and two similar ones in the jail, Smith said. If convicted of all three charges, he would be required to register as a sex offender, she said.

“It is tremendous to see these cases taken seriously,” she said, adding she believes it’s the first time anyone may be ordered to register as a sex offender for committing acts of indecent exposure in the jail.

Rios is one of about 35 inmates who have identified themselves as members of Savage Life, a gang formed last year among inmates being held in maximum-security units. Their activities include physically attacking guards, throwing feces and urine at them, and exposing themselves and masturbating in the presence of female defense attorneys and correctional officers, Smith said.

Since July 2015, jail officials have recorded hundreds of such incidents involving Savage Life but the incidents have decreased in recent months. One of the ways the sheriff’s office is combatting the behavior is to take away “good time” inmates earn in jail, Smith said. The office also is limiting visits and aggressively prosecuting Savage Life inmates for public indecency and other crimes, she said.

Smith said she hopes the possibility of Rios becoming a registered sex offender sends a message to other Savage Life inmates. Even hardened criminals balk at the stigma of being labeled sex offenders, she said.

Savage Life members recently expanded their perverse activities. They have been opening their own wounds and sticking sharp objects into their eyes to force guards to send them to the jail hospital. Most Savage Life members are in the maximum-security Division 9 and relish the chance to “take a walk” to another part of the jail — even the hospital, Smith said.

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