A bill that recently passed both legislative houses in Illinois will prohibit convicted child sex offenders from participating in holiday activities involving children, if signed by the Governor. While this bill is very specific, it adds further requirements for registered sex offenders in Illinois, and puts additional limits on how they must live following a criminal conviction.
Illinois Sex Offender BillThe recent bill, SB3579 (PDF), was introduced in February of this year and sponsored by Senator Kirk Dillard. If signed, it will amend the Illinois Criminal Code by making it a Class 4 felony for child sex offenders to participate in holiday events that involve children under 18-years-old. Limitations on activities include giving out candy on Halloween, dressing up as Santa Claus on or around Christmas and wearing an Easter Bunny costume on or before Easter Sunday. Exemptions from the law would include some statutory rape convictions and sex offenders who are parents or guardians of minors, as long as no other children are present in the home.
In addition to having to register with their local law enforcement agency and being added to the state's Sex Offender Database for a period of 10 years, child sex offenders in Illinois are also subject to residence and work restrictions. It is generally a violation of law for those convicted of child sex offenses to live with other sex offenders, live within 500 feet of a school, park or daycare center or work with children or in youth-related programs. Child sex offenders are also banned from visiting parks, being present on school grounds and using social networking websites during certain periods following a conviction.
Debate ContinuesAs legislatures in Illinois and across the nation continue to pass bills to further restrict and monitor convicted child sex offenders, critics wonder whether these types of laws actually help to protect children. A majority of sex crimes where children are the victims are committed by a family member or someone they know, so residential and work limitations do not always prevent these types of offenses. In addition, opponents of laws that seek to isolate child sex offenders say this can actually cause more problems and crimes than they solve or prevent.
Legal HelpPeople convicted of child sex offenses are already subject to a host of legal restrictions, and the list continues to grow with each newly enacted child sex offender law. Once someone is convicted and required to register as a sex offender in Illinois, the public embarrassment and other consequences will lasts for a minimum of 10 years. In the meantime, the bill to limit child sex offenders from participating in holiday events may soon become law, and another bill that would extend the registration requirement to 15 years is currently pending. These possible upcoming changes make it important for people charged with or convicted of sexual crimes to consult with an experienced criminal law attorney about their case.