Illinois Creates Registration Law For Those Convicted Of First-Degree Murder

After January 1, 2012, anyone convicted of first-degree murder in Illinois must register with an online database similar to sex-offender registries for 10 years after they have been released from prison. This law has created some debate about whether or not those convicted of murder in Illinois are being further punished even after they have served their required time.

The law is known as “Andrea’s Law” and was passed after the murder of Andrea Will by her former boyfriend, Justin Boulay. When Andrea’s mother discovered that Boulay was being released from prison after serving 12 years, she begin pushing legislators to enact a law to create registration similar to that used for sex offenders.

The law sets up a “first-degree murder” database, and anyone released from custody must provide their name, addresses, places of employment, schools and photos, and they have to register for 10-years after their release.

Worth the Expense?

The question with registry laws like this one is whether they provide society any value. Studies are beginning to show that sex-offender registration laws do not appear to greatly improve public safety, nor reduce recidivism by sex-offenders.

In fact, some studies indicate they may increase incarceration of offenders, as the registry requirements can be so oppressive as to make it inevitable that offenders will violate some aspect of their release and result in their return to custody.

They make it difficult for offenders to be reintegrated into society, functioning as a virtual “scarlet letter.” And they are very expensive to maintain and operate. Texas and California opted out of the national Adam Walsh Sex Offender Registry because of the great expense necessary to operate the registry. Offenders would have been required to check in with sheriff’s offices every three months. The loss of some federal law enforcement funds was far outweighed by the increased costs.

Another issue is that the registry can become an additional punishment, as legislatures continually add new requirements for previously convicted offenders. The Ohio Supreme Court found that new demands in a revised registry law crossed the line from being merely a changed administrative requirement to an additional punishment on offenders sentenced under the old law – ultimately declaring the law unconstitutional.


A article points to study published in the Journal of Law and Economics, which found that while some sex offender registries may have some deterrent effect, by making them publicly accessible they might actually lead to higher rates of sex offenses. Another study from the University of Chicago examined a variety of sex offender laws and found overall, there was no reduction in sex crimes.

Effective or not, for those convicted of first-degree murder, they are now required to register upon their release.

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