Sex offender registration for juveniles reconsidered in Illinois

On behalf of Philip Nathe

Most people are likely aware of the serious consequences associated with a conviction for a sex crime. The time spent behind bars as well as the requirement in most cases that the convicted person register as a sex offender may have an impact on that person’s life as long as they live. This is particularly true when the person forced to register is a juvenile. Recently the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission issued a report regarding this. The report was the result of a study sought by the General Assembly.

Conducting such a study makes sense when one looks at the specifics surrounding juvenile sex offenders. In 2010 a total of 232 sex crime arrests were made involving individuals considered juveniles. A retired chief circuit judge indicated that more than 50 percent of the juveniles who commit sex crimes are under the age of 14. The reasons cited for this type of behavior in individuals this young include developmental disabilities, the aggressors themselves being victims of sex abuse and a lack of social skills.

The results of the study prompted the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission to recommend a change to the system that currently makes it a requirement for those who are under the age of 17 to register as a sex offender. While the recommendation recognizes there are situations in which such a registration might be appropriate, it cites multiple reasons why in many cases it may not be. Some of those reasons concern situations where the victim is a family member. In addition to making it difficult to have a relationship moving forward, the registration also results in a loss of that person’s confidentiality. Perhaps more importantly, the treatment plans youth offenders usually find themselves is are generally quite effective. In addition, it is only on rare occasions where a young person who has been convicted of a sex crime reoffends as an adult.

Should this recommendation be put into practice, fewer juveniles will likely find that they are incarcerated for committing a sex crime. Nonetheless, because there is so much on the line when it comes to young people being accused of crime, it is a good idea to work with a lawyer in crafting a defense.

Source: CBS Chicago, “Commission: Remove Juveniles From Sex Offender Registries,” Associated Press, March 25, 2014

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Sex offender registration for juveniles reconsidered in Illinois