Some Illinois sex offenders remain in prison years after their sentences end

Residence restrictions make it difficult for many registered sex offenders to find safe, adequate, and affordable housing. That’s under the best of circumstances. In Illinois, laws force many people who can’t find housing to remain in prison long after their sentences end.

The situation has prompted a class action lawsuit against the state, and even one former lawmaker acknowledges the situation is unjust.

The suit alleges the housing restrictions create a disproportionate burden for poor families. Nekritz, the state representative who retired in September, said she saw that burden firsthand during her 15 years in office. 

“I have been contacted by a number of families who are just looking for some relief and some stability so they can move on with their lives, and it’s hard to give them hope,” Nekritz said. “To my mind, the law is completely unjust when it comes to impacts on those families.” 

She said she recalls how quickly lawmakers would rally behind increased “enhancements” to sex offender laws. 

“They would just sail through, because there was no objection to them,” Nekritz said. “But as it turns out, as I’ve now learned, many of (the laws) are conflicting with each other. They’re cumbersome and almost impossible for someone who is on the sex offender registry to comply with.

Contradictory, cumbersome laws that are almost impossible to comply with is a fair description of sex offender laws in many states.

Read more, and listen to a report, from Chicago public radio station WBEZ.

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