Illinois Voices and Civil Rights Attorneys Challenge Laws
On Monday, September 12, 2016, our partner attorneys, Mark and Adele, filed another lawsuit in federal court. This lawsuit challenges the practice of forcing individuals to move if a playground or daycare opens within 500 feet of their home. This has been a huge issue with Illinois Voices supporters, and we are very excited to see this challenged launched.
The attorneys are making several claims in their lawsuit, including due process and ex post facto violations, as well as a violation of the Fifth Amendment takings clause. This lawsuit comes on the heels of the 6th Circuit Court decision recently that found portions of residency restrictions to be punitive and therefore subject to constitutional protections.
To read more about this legal challenge, click here.
Good Intentions, Bad Results
Those who have been sexually abused have no sympathy for someone listed on a sex offender registry. Victims suffer lifelong consequences of that abuse and many have difficulty moving on with their lives. Society hears of this abuse and applauds stricter laws for those who have committed such crimes.
Those on the registry do not understand why lawmakers continue to pass harsher laws each year for a "past" crime - including crimes from 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Each year, harsher laws are passed further restricting where they can live or where they can go. Offenses continue to be added to the definitions of "sex offender" and "sexual predator" - including crimes with no sexual intent.
Lawmakers' response to public outcry resulted in laws primarily designed with stranger offenders in mind, despite evidence that individuals known by the victim were more likely to be the offenders of concern. The strongest argument in support of our current laws is the purportedly high recidivism rate among sex offenders. However, when actual evidence of recidivism is examined, there is a huge gap that exists between what is assumed and what the data actually shows. The truth is that most sex offenders do NOT re-offend. Current laws are focused on punishing and restricting people for past crimes, with no assessments being conducted to know if a person is at risk of re-offending. Meanwhile, sexual assaults continue and in most cases, the offender is someone known to the victim and in even more cases, the offender is not someone already convicted of a sex-based crime.
It's time for a change!
Current sex offender laws are not working. Reform is necessary to protect society, especially children, and to find a way to reintegrate those who have offended. Current laws are over-broad, over-inclusive, and do not distinguish between violent sex offenders and non-violent persons charged with sexually based crimes. Applying tough sanctions without regard to the actual danger posed by all convicted offenders actually makes us less safe. Law enforcement spends a great deal of time and money keeping tabs on those who pose little or no risk – keeping them from focusing on the high-risk offenders. Pouring scarce resources into monitoring all persons convicted of sexually based crimes means less money for programs to prevent sexual violence. It's time we stop passing "feel good" laws and start taking steps to accomplish the original goal of the registry . . . to protect society!
Illinois Voices fights for and supports laws that MAKE SENSE, ones that actually make society safer while protecting the constitutional rights of everyone involved. We believe laws should be passed based on research and empirical evidence of what works and what does not. "Feel good" laws based on public hysteria surrounding high-profile, but rare cases waste taxpayer dollars, violate the rights of individuals, and can actually detract from public safety.
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