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Law enforcement not 100% on-board with all proposed sex offender changes

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Tuesday, January 9, 2018  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Sexual assault, Sex Crime (96)
Some of Illinois' law enforcers are a bit cautious about a plan to change the rules for Illinois sex offenders.

A new report suggests that Illinois lawmakers let some people off Illinois' sex offender registry.

The report, finalized last month, is the end product of months of meetings between advocates, defense attorneys, victims, police officers and prosecutors.

McLean County States' Attorney Jason Chambers was on the panel, although he doesn't agree with every recommendation.

"When they were suggesting getting rid of the sex offender registry, I said, 'I'm not agreeing to that'," Chambers said. "The recommendations in this report were made by majority vote. So there are a lot of recommendations in here that some of us did not vote for."

Chambers says there is support, even among law enforcement agencies, to look at the laws surrounding what are usually called "Romeo and Juliet" cases, where young people on the different sides of 18 years old date.

But Chambers said if Illinois wants to lighten the rules on minor offenders, he wants to double down on truly dangerous ones.

"I don't view it as, let's be softer on anyone," Chambers said. "I view it as, let's make it so that we are putting a high amount of energy into the people who are a risk. And evaluating who those people are."

The 60 page report, which was released last month, asks lawmakers to let some low-level offenders off the registry after a few years, while using a more evidenced-based model to deal with other offenders.

It could be a difficult journey to take the report and make it into law.

Chambers questions whether Illinois lawmakers will embrace any suggestion that could be seen as being soft on sex offenders, particularly since 2018 is an election year.