Illinois tries to tighten sex-offender
law, but will it make people safer?
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[February 13, 2014]
SPRINGFIELD (Illinois Watchdog) — Illinois
already bans sex offenders from handing out Halloween candy and getting
too close to a park or school. The law requires sex offenders to report
moves or when they change jobs and, now, convicted offenders could face
prison time if they fail to tell the state when they lose a job.
But will people be safer because of it?
State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, said local cops and
prosecutors asked him to push for the new law,
"A detective in Pontiac, an assistant state's attorney in McLean
County and another assistant (state's attorney) over in Champaign
County all brought the same issue to my attention," Barickman said,
"which makes me think this is an issue that is real and legitimate."
POLICE AND PROSECUTORS WANT IT: Barickman says local cops brought
the new plan to him.
Barickman realizes a lot of plans aim to "get tough" on sex
offenders, but he characterizes his proposal as a clarification.
"Most state's attorneys and law enforcement people would (say)
they've been interpreting the law that if someone changes a job or
lost a job (they'd have to register)," Barickman said. "But a judge
decided that is not true. If you lost your job, that didn't qualify
for a change."
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Whether a clarification or a new law, Ed Yohnka, director of
communications for the ACLU of Illinois, said the result is the
"We're layering on these (laws) in a way that doesn't really
increase our safety and security," Yohnka told Illinois Watchdog.
"And that's the problem."
It's unclear whether the cases brought to Barickman included more
than a simple registration violation, and Barickman said he wants to
maintain a balance while giving police and prosecutors the tools
Yohnka sees it differently.
"The larger issue, in many ways, is the difference between being
tough on crime and smart on crime," Yohnka said. "We all acknowledge there are
dangerous people out there, and we want them kept away from society. But we want
that done in a fashion that is really smart."
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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