CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS PHOTO BY JERRY NOWICKI
The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield. The Supreme Court is weighing whether it is constitutional to impose lifetime restrictions on where a person can live after they’ve been convicted of a sex crime involving a minor.

YOUR FAULT

So sorry you were too negligent to check the distance from your soon-to-be home to that of children similar to ones you have a past history of drugging and molesting, but moms are more than happy that our state requires you to find somewhere else to prowl ("State Supreme Court weighs constitutionality of lifetime restrictions on child sex offenders," Nov. 23). There's plenty of land out of town. Yes, it may give your life more turbulence, but that is the very least you can do.

Hold yourself accountable for your actions. You helped kids get drunk and then touched them in inappropriate ways. The ability to ever think that is OK is inconceivable to any human worth living anywhere near an institution children attend.

Jamey Borden

Springfield

CHANGE STIGMA

Unless you are someone on the sex offender registry or have a loved one on the registry, you likely agree that there should be lifetime living restrictions for offenders. I was of the same belief until I found myself on the registry.

Now, I have only been on the registry for a few years compared to Martin Kopf's 21 years. But after being turned down by virtually every employer in town despite having a bachelor's degree and job experience in nonprofit, state and federal government work, paying $2,000 a year in sex offender counseling and nearly being forced from my home a week before Christmas because of the vagueness surrounding the 500-foot-proximity law, I am in agreement with Mr. Kopf that a lifetime of residency restrictions and a lifetime of supervision is not only unconstitutional, but it is also a punitive punishment.

There are currently 33,000 people on the sex offender registry in Illinois. Here in Sangamon County, there are 145 registrants with at least 35 being homeless. In Chicago, one in five people listed on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry is homeless. Because they don't have a fixed address, homeless registrants are forced to report to a police station every week to document where they are living. However, many are turned away because of the lack of staff and resources, putting the homeless registrant at risk of being marked as non-compliant, which is a felony offense. And as temperatures drop below freezing, registrants are barred from most overnight warming shelters.

Equally frustrating is the situation for those incarcerated. As of 2021, there are more than 1,400 offenders who are being held past their prison release date solely because they cannot find housing that meets the 500-foot rule.

And despite being crime-free for decades and having completed sex offender counseling, which every offender must complete in prison and while on supervision, the general public, judges, law enforcement and politicians still believe that Mr. Kopf and others are the same people they were when they first committed their offense.

The consensus does not take into account a person's capacity to change, to grow and to be rehabilitated. If that's the case – if the work we put in treatment doesn't mean anything after the fact – why are we ordered to go in the first place? If someone has been crime-free for decades and statistically shown to be on the same level of committing a crime as someone who never has, why are we treated like a ticking time bomb waiting to happen, more so than someone who has multiple DUIs, for example?

The stigma surrounding registrants must change. Facts matter. Second chances matter. I hope the Illinois Supreme Court gets this one right.

Name withheld by request

Springfield

REAL HYPOCRISY

I want to take issue with the most stunning comment by state Sen. Steve McClure in Scott Reeder's piece, "General Assembly takes no action on Invest in Kids program" (Nov. 16). He says: "A lot of these legislators send their kids to private schools. A lot of those in the Chicago Teachers Union send their kids to private schools. And yet all of them didn't support this bill to let other kids who are in poor neighborhoods send their kids to private schools – despite the fact that the schools that they're attending are failing. The hypocrisy is incredible." 

How is that hypocrisy? You want the government to pay for something that other people have to pay for out of their own pocket.

That's like saying it's hypocrisy for members of the General Assembly to not hand out vouchers for free T-bone steak, even though they may pay for and eat it occasionally themselves.

Does Senator McClure also think it is hypocrisy to oppose single-payer universal health insurance, since he has a government-sponsored health insurance plan himself? That seems to actually meet the definition of "hypocrisy."

It's amazing how conservatives like McClure see fault in every other area of government social spending, but when it is about subsidizing private and religious schools, then their principles fly out the window.

Mary Harris

Springfield

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