SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to help restore peace of mind for victims of sexual assault and their families, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that will give victims more access to information on the whereabouts of the person convicted of assaulting them.
“I hope this new law will help sexual assault survivors as they struggle to put their fears to rest and instead focus on healing and moving forward,” said Blagojevich.
Senate Bill 3166, sponsored by state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) and Rep. William Delgado (D-Chicago), requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to make all reasonable efforts to notify victims and their loved ones when there is a “change in status” of a sexually violent person. This includes situations where a sexually violent person escapes, is not committed to treatment by the court and is set free, dies, is moved to a different facility, or is discharged or conditionally released.
Under current law, victims and loved ones are only notified when the person is discharged or conditionally released
“It’s essential that we give the victims of these crimes and their loved ones the comfort and peace of mind that comes from knowing the whereabouts of the people incarcerated under this act,” said Rep. Delgado.
The bill also closes a loophole in the statute, which set up twenty-nine strict rules for sexually violent persons who DHS recommended for conditional release -- but did not contain the same requirements for individuals petitioning the court on their own. This change would require that all sexually violent persons who are sent back into the community abide by the same monitoring and oversight requirements.
Finally, the new law establishes a clear schedule for evaluating sexually violent offenders and reporting to the courts on a consistent basis. Under the new amendment, DHS must report on the person’s condition within six months after initial commitment, and at least once every 12 months thereafter. The court may request additional reports at any time.
"This bill provides two important reforms involving sexually violent crimes," said Rep. Silverstein. "Our courts should have knowledge of the mental condition of sexually violent criminals; likewise the victims' families should be made aware of the status of the offenders, being informed should the convicted escape, die in prison, or have a court-ordered change in custody."
SB 3166 is effective immediately.