We support the effort in IL led by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) to toughen the sex offender registry. The safety of children and the prevention of future child sexual abuse should always be paramount in discussions about these laws. We are glad that, unlike in neighboring Missouri, lawmakers in IL are focusing on the right priorities.
With that said, we also support giving adults more details about the crimes that caused offenders to be put on the registry. For some, it's helpful to know whether a person was convicted of child porn, child sex abuse, or other offenses. Similarly, with more information being provided to parents and community members, those convicted of these “Romeo and Juliet” crimes would fare better than a serial child predator. It is important to remember that child abuse is rarely a one-time occurrence. By providing the best possible information to the registry and keeping tight controls on child predators, children are much safer.
However, we still believe that energy is being misspent by focusing on the sex offender registry. The best way to protect children and to prosecute those who abuse kids is to reform the archaic and predator-friendly statute of limitations laws that do more to protect abusers and prevent justice. By reforming these laws, more child molesters will be caught, charged, convicted, and ousted from jobs and so that more children are safeguarded.
Senator Haine’s bill, SB 3359, is a good step in the right direction. We encourage Sen. Haine and the rest of the Illinois legislature to take their commitment to protect children one step further and work now to reform the statute of limitations.