SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed several new laws today in an effort to give law enforcement agencies more tools to protect Illinois families and communities from sex offenders. This comprehensive package authorizes Global Positioning System (GPS) monitoring of paroled sexual predators, includes stricter guidelines for sex offenders who are near child care facilities, prohibits custody or visitation by a father of a child who is convicted of sex crimes that resulted in the conception of the child, and clarification of disclosure of sex offenses in teacher endorsement or certification.
Gov. Blagojevich also signed several other laws that will include stricter guidelines on sex offenders and laws that will help give law enforcement more tools when dealing with sex offenders.
“We have to do everything in our power to protect our children and communities from sexual predators. We’ve passed laws to keep sex offenders away from schools and other places where kids gather, and we’ve required them to regularly register with law enforcement when they get out of prison. With the bills I’m signing today, police will have even more tools to know where sex offenders are and make sure they’re not putting our families in harm’s way,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
HB 4222, sponsored by Sen. William R. Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) requires sexual predators to be on GPS monitoring during their parole term. This would qualify the offenders who are convicted under the Sex Offender Registration Act on or after the effective date of this amendatory act. The Department of Corrections has operated a GPS monitoring pilot program since July 2005 that can accommodate up to 200 high-risk sex offenders.
“With new, more technological options to track sex offenders that will identify the offender’s current location and provide timely reports or records of the offender’s presence, we as a society are working to keep innocent civilians safe and free from harm. We must maintain control of sex offenders in order to keep our communities safe for all. This law puts us on the road to full implementation of electronic monitoring of sex offenders,” Sen. Haine said.
In addition, HB 4222 also:
- Requires the Illinois State Police to have information about the number of sex offenders and sexual predators who are subject to electronic monitoring.
- Enhances sex offender registration verification. The bill requires the Illinois State Police to review and analyze all available information concerning the missing sex offender and provides that information to local law enforcement.
- Requires that anyone who has reason to believe that a sexual predator is not complying with the Sex Offender Registration Act and who helps the sexual predator escape a law enforcement agency who is looking for the offender is guilty of a Class 3 Felony if: the person provides false information to the police about the sexual predator’s noncompliance and location, harbors the sexual predator, or conceals the sexual predator. This section does not apply if the sexual predator is in government custody.
“Anyone, even friends and family members, who chose to harbor a noncompliant sexual predator will now face stiffer sentences of incarceration in a state penitentiary,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. “Law enforcement strongly supports this bill and will continue to seek out and arrest noncompliant sexual predators as well as those who knowingly harbor these dangerous criminals.”
A sexual predator is defined in statute as an offender who commits certain sex offenses, such as aggravated criminal sexual assault and ritualized abuse of a child, among many other offenses. The length of sexual predator’s parole term depends on the offense committed. It could be as little as two years, or for some offenses, he could be subject to lifetime supervision.
The Governor also signed several other pieces of legislation that will help protect communities from sexual predators:
Teacher Certification/Disclosure: Senate Bill 859 adds “failure to disclose on an employment application any previous conviction for a sex offense” to the definition of “unprofessional conduct.” Sponsored by Sen. Edward Maloney (D-Chicago) and Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Kankakee), SB 859 may cause a teacher’s certificate or endorsement to be suspended by the regional or state superintendents.
“Unprofessional conduct” includes offenses like refusing to participate in teacher’s meetings and institutes, violating rules that apply to administering achievement tests and failing to report as requested to school officers.
Statute of Limitations for Sex Offenses: House Bill 4606, sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and Rep. Maria Antonia Berrios (D-Chicago), gives certain victims of sexual assault three years to report the offense to law enforcement in order for the 10-year statute of limitations to apply. Formerly, these victims had only two years.
Sex Offenders and Drivers’ Licenses: Senate Bill 2962, sponsored by Sen. Edward Petka (R-Plainfield) and Rep. Robert Flider (D-Decatur), puts additional restrictions on sex offender’s ability to get a driver’s license. Under the bill, sex offenders:
· Must get their driver’s license renewed every year, unless the Secretary of State sets a different policy in rules, but it will be at least every two years. Usually, licenses must be renewed every four to five years.
· Can have their license canceled. The license will not be reinstated until the offender registers on the Sex Offender Registry, proves he is on the registry and proves his current address.
If the sex offender drives without a license, and the license was taken away because he did not register on the Sex Offender Registry, the penalty is a Class A misdemeanor with sentencing of up to a year in jail.
SB 2962 makes the annual driver’s license renewal requirement a part of the sentence of sex offenders.
Sexually Violent Person Containment and Release: Senate Bill 2873 allows an offender who is in prison because of a non-sex offense perpetrated while on parole for a sex offense to be referred to the Attorney General for commitment as a Sexually Violent Person. Sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Careen Gordon (D-Coal City), the bill adds language that says a sexually violent offender remains eligible for commitment if the person is serving a sentence for a different crime at the same time or immediately after a sentence for a sexually violent offense, returns to the Illinois Department of Corrections’ custody during parole, or is convicted for any offense while on parole.
Interstate Sex Offender Task Force: House Bill 4298, sponsored by Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) and Rep. Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island), creates the Interstate Sex Offender Task Force. The purpose of the Task Force is to analyze other states’ sex offender registration and residency laws and how that affects Illinois.
Specifically, the task force would examine:
· The communication between states about sex offenders’ movement between states;
· Illinois laws and its border states’ laws regarding where sex offenders may live;
· The extent that law enforcement resources are affected by residency restrictions; and
· The impact of residency restrictions on Illinois parole and probation.
Additional information required on sex offender registry: Senate Bill 3016, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) and Rep. Kurt Granberg (D-Centralia), adds information such as the license plate number of every vehicle registered to a sex offender and any distinguishing body marks to the sex offender registry. The Illinois State Police would also make the location of registered sex offenders available via a searchable mapping system. The system would be able to identify any sex offenders living within a five-mile radius of a specific address.
HB 4298 is effective immediately. HB 4222, HB 4606, SB 0859, SB 2873, SB 2962, and SB 3016 go into effect on January 1, 2007.
Already this summer, the Governor has signed the following bills that offer increased protection from sex offenders:
· Prohibit Name Change: House Bill 4179, prohibits identify theft and sex offenders from changing their name. Sponsored by Sen. William Peterson (R-Buffalo Grove) and Rep. JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch), the bill states that anyone who has been convicted of the following cannot file a petition for a name change in Illinois: identity theft or aggravated identity theft, felony or misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child, felony or misdemeanor sexual exploitation of a child, felony or misdemeanor indecent solicitation of a child, felony or misdemeanor indecent solicitation of an adult, or any other offense that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act in Illinois or any other state. HB 4179 goes in to effect on January 1, 2007.
· Give Illinois State Police Access to Sex Offender Information: House Bill 4375, sponsored by Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora) and Rep. Terry Parke (R-Schaumberg), gives the Illinois State Police access to the information obtained through the Unemployment Insurance Act, which includes sex offenders’ current and former places of employment. Currently, an interagency-shared data agreement between the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Employment Security already exists. House Bill 4375 would eliminate the need for an interagency agreement.
The information obtained through the Unemployment Insurance Act includes employer’s name and address, period of time the individual was employed at that business or company, the wages earned, the individual’s active and inactive public aid cases, and the address to which public aid checks are mailed. HB 4375 was effective immediately.
· Clarify Child Sex Offender Prohibitions: House Bill 5249, sponsored by Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) and Rep. James Meyer (R-Naperville), clarifies the current 500 foot rule for child sex offenders by including child care institutions, day care centers, and part day child care facilities to the areas that child sex offenders are not allowed to be within 500 feet of such facilities.
Specifically, the bill makes it a Class 4 felony, with a sentence of one to three years in prison, for a child sex offender to knowingly reside within 500 feet of a child care institution, day care center or part day child care facility. This bill also makes it a Class 4 felony with a sentence of one to three years in prison for a child sex offender to knowingly operate, manage, be employed by, volunteer at, be associated with, or knowingly be present at a day care center, part day child care facility, child care institution, or school providing before and after school programs for children under age 18. HB 5249 was effective immediately.
· Sex Offender Visitation: Senate Bill 2162, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-River Grove), prohibits custody or visitation by the father of a child if the father is convicted of certain crimes that resulted in the conception of the child. The crimes include sexual relations within families, sexual assault and sexual abuse.
There is an exception in the legislation to allow visits by the father if the mother or guardian of the child consents. The legislation also states that the sex offender, and father of the child, cannot be the guardian who gives consent for visitation. Additionally, even if the father does not have visitation or custody rights, the legislation does not relieve the father of any support and maintenance obligations to the child under the Illinois Parentage Act of 1984. SB 2162 was effective immediately.