Illinois Poised to Stiffen Offender Registry

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Sexual Assault on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Currently, Illinois has some of the harshest sex registration penalties in the country. In an effort to avoid jail time, many accept plea agreements which shorten the time their names will appear on the sex offender registry. However, even with these stiff penalties in place, officials in the Senate are attempting to extend the required registration time to 15 years instead of 10, which is the current requirement for many. This movement, termed the Adam Walsh Act, is up for debate in Illinois’ legislature.

The impact of being an Illinois registered sex offender for these individuals is harsh and not all the individuals on the list are a threat to public safety. Some registered sex offenders were convicted of what is considered a “Romeo and Juliet” crime. These are individuals who were charged with having consensual sex with a minor, most often when they were teenagers, or getting their girlfriend pregnant when they were over the age of 18. Not the type of crime that is typically associated with someone who is classified as a sex offender.

However, because information on these individuals as registered sex offenders is readily available on the Internet, the consequences can be seen in their everyday lives. This listing can affect their ability to become employed, procure housing, attend school events with their children, or even take their children to the park. Recently passed legislation requires any offender on the registry to stay away from parks, forest preserves and social networking sites. Some feel that the reason officials continue to pile on stiffer regulations is motivated by politics and not to protect children, the original reason the list was implemented.

Illinois currently includes the crimes of indecent exposure and urinating in a public place as offenses that can require offenders to be placed on the sexual offender registry for 10 years. Proposed legislation in the House would remove these types of offenses.

The registry would continue to be used as a mechanism to protect children from being the victims of violent sexual crimes, and ensuring that those that are included in the registry are those individuals who are a threat to public safety. Proponents of the bill are hoping that they can find a way to keep the registry in line with its original intentions and avoid burdening the lives people who do not deserve such a harsh punishment.

Source: STL Today, “Illinois, Missouri on opposite ends of sex offender list debate,” Kevin McDermott, April 16, 2012