Monday, March 28, 2005

Bureaucratic Inefficiency Is Putting Kids At Risk In Illinois

In Illinois, it is state law that schools be notified when they enroll a juvenile sex offender. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a dangerous combination of bureaucratic inefficiency and the deliberate ignoring of the law by some police agencies are combining to put students at risk:
Some principals were not told that young sex offenders had enrolled in their schools, because the state system designed to notify them is mired in confusion, according to a Tribune investigation.

While the list of Illinois' adult sex offenders is accessible to anyone on the Internet, a similar registry of about 1,100 juveniles who have committed sex crimes is largely kept secret.

State law says school officials are supposed to be told by sheriff's police when a juvenile sex offender is enrolled, but not all sheriff's police read the law that way, and some decline to divulge the names.

Some local police departments won't tell principals the names of sex offenders in their schools even when they ask. State law permits police departments to share the information with schools.

It was by chance that an East Peoria woman discovered that a boy who was found guilty of molesting her 7-year-old son was in the same physical education class as her teenage son.

The 16-year-old was registered as a sex offender with the Illinois State Police. But because of the disarray surrounding the juvenile sex offender registry, the information didn't get to the school until the mother informed officials herself.

"I'm just one person in Peoria," the mother said. "If mine fell through, how many other kids are out there that these schools don't know about?"

The notification law was passed in the 1990s. Read the whole informative (and frightening) article by clicking here.

Update: Joanne Jacobs has some thoughts.
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