Criminal Justice

Woman arrested 396 times will get treatment (again)


A Chicago woman arrested 396 times will enter a mental health and substance abuse program as part of a plea deal.

Shermain Miles accepted the deal on Monday, thanking the judge and saying she is “not that person” known to shriek in courthouse lockups, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Miles has been incarcerated on a parole violation since December. She was previously released from prison in April 2011 and was arrested six times before her return to custody. She told the Illinois Prisoner Review Board this spring that she found God in prison and is a changed woman.

Miles pleaded guilty on Monday in three cases stemming from her arrests while on parole, including an alleged attack on an alderman, the Sun-Times says.

Miles has been described as “acutely psychotic,” the Sun-Times reported in a story published last month. She was physically abused by her mother, Miles’ sister told the newspaper. Her 396 arrests since 1978 include 92 arrests for theft, 65 for disorderly conduct, 59 for prostitution-related crimes and five for robbery or attempted robbery. She has been convicted 73 times. She has been known to pinch pedestrians, to walk out in the street and act like a crossing guard, and to lay in the middle of the street.

“The system—strapped by overcrowded prisons and cuts to mental health funding—hasn’t been able to save Miles from herself or to help the communities she menaces,” the Sun-Times says. “Nothing has worked. Not jail. Not prison. Not countless psychological exams.” She has also been “in and out of mental health hospitals,” the newspaper says.

Chicago Police Officer Tom Rolon told the Sun-Times that Miles is a master at working the system. She fakes seizures and is sent to the hospital. She gets court delays and cases are dismissed.

Miles had agreed to an interview with a Sun-Times reporter while in prison, then turned and walked away when she learned she would not be paid. “I have nothing to say,” she said. “Jesus already took care of it.”

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