SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — A new bill going through the Illinois House would change sex offender laws and allow them to live closer to schools, day cares, and playgrounds.
Currently, sex offenders have to live a minimum of 500 feet away from places like these. Those in favor of the bill say this would help support and rehabilitate sex offenders.
However, law enforcement officials and many people on Facebook think the whole idea is idiotic.
House Bill 3913 would make it so sex offenders could live 250 feet away from playgrounds, schools, and day cares, instead of 500.
"The closer you bring a sex offender to these vulnerable targets, the more likely they are going to offend,” Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said.
Campbell said this is a pro-sex offender, anti-victim, anti-police bill.
"Overall, the bill would make our communities less safe,” Campbell said.
However, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) Policy Manager Madeleine Behr said these residency restrictions on sex offenders are causing higher rates of poverty and homelessness, and thus, they would be more likely to re-offend.
"The goal is to open up more housing for folks,” Behr said. “We know that poverty, housing issues, other things are more likely to lead to crime. So, by reducing that is really helpful."
Campbell said the ramifications would be that the move would cause more temptation to re-offend.
"We will not support this and law enforcement will fight it tooth and nail because it appears to be another anti-victim, anti-police bill that one of our misguided legislators is trying to push through," Campbell said.
Behr said this is a huge problem in the highly populated Chicago area, and not so much downstate.
But, she said in order for this to change, Illinois law has to change, and that will affect the entire state.
The introduction of this bill comes just two months after the massive criminal justice reform package.
HB 3913 is still in its beginning stages and has yet to be heard in committee.
Chicago 400, another advocacy group, has a plethora of information on their cause and the group on their website.
They provided what the bill does and why and a fact sheet from their perspective.
DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick also spoke out against the bill in a Facebook post.