New legislation passed the state Legislature with overwhelming support. Now it awaits Governor Quinn’s signature—something that is likely inevitable. The bill would create a murderer registry, designed to track convicted murderers after they’ve been released from prison. While supporters believe the public have a right to know about their neighbor’s past, people who oppose the bill see it as an expensive tool with little real value.
The law will require those people convicted of first degree murder to register for 10 years after their release from prison. It will be retroactive to those people released from 2002 onward. These are all people who have served their time, though some may still be on parole.
The registry will function much the same as a sex offender registry, allowing the community to search an online database to see who might be living in their neighborhood. It will include the offender’s name, description, and address. Failure to register would be punishable in the criminal courts.
Several states currently have registries like this one for violent offenders. All track their sex offenders in a similar manner. But are the registries really serving any purpose or are they just giving people a false sense of security?
While one study showed that sex offender registration reduced recidivism, several others have stated otherwise. And contrary to the information we heard when those particular registries were created, sex offenders are some of the least likely to reoffend anyways.
Like sex offenders, murderers are also very unlikely to reoffend after serving time for killing someone. Only 1.2% of people who served time for homicide were arrested for another murder within 3 years of their release, according to this article with the Chicago Tribune.
“There is no denying there is a ‘Scarlet Letter’-type appeal to these laws,” says Wayne Logan, a FSU professor and author of a new book which examines registration laws. He points out that criminals were even physically branded like cattle as late as the 1800s under the same rationale as these registries, so that the public would know who was in their midst.
In modern days, lawmakers seem to downplay the costs of such registries and perhaps inflate their value rather than look soft on crime. Only one Illinois lawmaker rejected the registry. Representative Monique Davis (D-Chicago), voted against the measure saying that the cost of the registry would fall on already-strapped local agencies as they would have to track down and “catalog” these offenders.
Criminal registries are popular. But where should the line be drawn? Maine has proposed a drunk driver’s registry. Will someone suggest a felon-registry? And in the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world, many citizens might be surprised to learn just how many of their neighbors have been convicted of a serious crime.
If you are facing charges, whether they are as serious as murder or as relatively minor as DUI, you will encounter stigma associated with such criminal charges. People will judge you, even before your case goes to court. It’s at this time in your life that you need an advocate on your side. Contact our offices today for a free consultation on your criminal case.