sex offender registry

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois has registries for sex offenders and for those who've harmed children. Now a lawmaker wants to create a registry for people who've hurt animals.

Representative Toni Berrios' proposal would create a registry for animal abusers, to be maintained by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Once on the registry, a person couldn’t buy a companion animal, or be employed in a job involving animals.

Berrios, a Democrat from Chicago, says the current penalty for a first-time offender is too light.

Adam Walsh
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In 2005, Joseph Duncan tied up Brenda Groene, her 13-year-old son, Slade Groene, and her husband, Mark McKenzie, and beat them to death with a hammer in the family’s home in Idaho. Duncan kidnapped Brenda’s 8-year-old daughter, Shasta Groene, and 9-year-old son, Dylan Groene. He took them to remote campgrounds in Montana and over several weeks, he sexually assaulted both children and eventually murdered Dylan. Shasta survived the ordeal after a waitress at an Idaho Denny’s restaurant recognized her and called the police. 

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Unless you spend time in the state Capitol, you would likely never imagine that lawmakers spend a good portion of their time debating a single issue: sex offenders. 

A cursory search of the General Assembly’s website shows two dozen bills that deal with sex offenders were introduced since the current legislative session began in January. They include bills requiring sex offenders to register with a university if they are students or workers there, and legislation that pushes the areas where they are allowed to live farther and farther away from places such as schools and parks. 

In a single afternoon last month, a powerful legislative panel took up, among other things, the death penalty, witness intimidation, eavesdropping and state gun laws. But for every measure under consideration there was another aimed at a single subject: sex offenders. 

"It seems like every other bill deals with sex offenders. If they had any money, they should hire a lobbyist," remarked Chicago Democratic Sen. John Cullerton as a long day spilled into evening.

Sex offenders appear everywhere. They’re in Chicago, in Galena, in Cairo, and most places in between. There’s Michael Lee Clayton who lives on Willow in Effingham. There’s William Bence on 12th in Quincy. There’s Frederick Stanford on Harmon in Danville.