CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed five pieces of legislation to increase protections for Illinois children from convicted sex offenders. These new laws provide the public with important information about unaccounted for sex offenders and strengthen barriers keeping sex offenders away from children and their homes, schools and child care facilities.
“Protecting the children of Illinois is one of my most important jobs,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Parents need to trust that they can send their child to school and day care without worrying that they could be harmed by a convicted sex offender. As a father, I am pleased to sign these bills that will make our laws protecting kids from sexual predators even stronger.”
House Bill 2671, sponsored by State Senator Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and State Representative Fred Crespo (D-Chicago), prohibits sex offenders from serving as election judges and requires election authorities to check the names of their election judges against the state’s sex offender registry. While Illinois state law prohibits child sex offenders from being within 500 feet of where children gather, it was discovered that several sex offenders had been serving as election judges in Cook County schools. HB 2671 goes into effect January 1, 2009.
“Our children are our most precious resource. We need to put every protection in place to make sure that when a child goes to school, they are safe from sex offenders. I thank the Governor for signing this legislation which takes our protections one step further,” said Senator Michael Noland.
The Governor also signed House Bill 3399, which was sponsored by State Senator Antonio Munoz (D-Chicago) and State Representative Michael K. Smith (D-Pekin). This law specifically defines the parameters of the existing 500 foot boundary that a sex offender is required to obey. The clarification will aid law enforcement by creating a more specific point of measurement, making it easier to prosecute violators of the 500 foot requirement. This law also takes effect January 1, 2009.
“This legislation will help to clarify current law so child sex offenders cannot be closer then 500 feet from a school or other location where children are present, such as a park or a recreation facility,” said Senator Munoz. “Every child deserves a safe environment. With the Governor's signature we will come one step closer to that goal.”
House Bill 1998, the third bill the Governor signed today, allows the Illinois State Police (ISP) to create and maintain a Statewide Missing Sex Offender Database web site that will make information on missing or unaccounted for sex offenders available to the public. This cooperative approach between ISP, the Attorney General, and other law enforcement agencies will provide an easy-to-access tool for the public. HB 1998 was sponsored by State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) and State Rep. Michael K. Smith (D-Pekin) and is effective immediately.
House Bill 4207 restricts registered sex offenders from renting or leasing property that they own to a tenant with children if they are also living in the same building. The legislation was sponsored by State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) and State Representative JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch). It will go into effect on January 1, 2009.
In an effort to continue to increase safety at day care facilities, Governor Blagojevich signed House Bill 4402 sponsored by State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Westmont) and State Representative James Meyer (R-Naperville). The law adds “day care home” and “group day care home” to the definition of places in which it is unlawful for a registered sex offender to operate, work, or volunteer. Violators of this law can be charged with a Class 4 felony.
“These laws will further assist law enforcement agencies in protecting our children from convicted sex offenders. In addition, we are eager to set up the new website which will provide the public more information about sex offenders whose whereabouts are currently unknown. I thank Governor Blagojevich for taking these important steps in the fight to protect our children from these potential predators,” said Director Larry Trent, Illinois State Police.
Throughout the Governor’s administration, he has signed several pieces of legislation into law to tighten restrictions and registration of sex offenders and define parameters to better help citizens track sex offenders residing in their communities.