Illinois park ban remains in effect

A disappointing ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court, from Illinois Voices for Reform:

This morning (4/5), the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Pepitone case regarding the law prohibiting individuals convicted of a sexually-based offense against a minor from being in parks, paths, and bike trails. A lower court had ruled the law unconstitutional, but the State of Illinois appealed the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.  

The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling, saying in effect that the legislature is in a better position than the courts to determine if the law is “rational” in its attempt to protect children. Thus, in Illinois, it remains illegal for an individual who was convicted of a sexually-based offense against a minor to be in parks or on paths or bike trails. 

Obviously, we are very disappointed in the ruling. We believe the Court failed in its responsibility, and instead passed the burden of responsibility back to legislators, elected officials who are always worried about appearing “soft on crime.” 

The case is not completely dead just yet. It has been sent back to the lower court for evaluation based on its ex post facto claim. The lower court did not consider the ex post facto claim before since it ruled positively on the “rational basis” argument. However, now that the “rational basis” argument has been overturned, the lower court will now consider the ex post facto argument. If they win that argument, then the law would not apply to anyone convicted before the law was passed. 

While this ruling is sad and depressing, we encourage you all to keep the faith. We knew that change would not come quickly or easily, and we are starting to see very positive rulings coming from other court decisions. In addition, we had some very good recommendations come out of the task force last year, and we will be working with lawmakers in the coming years to try to get some of the recommendations implemented. 

In the meantime, we always think it’s best to look for the things we CAN do rather than dwell on what we CANNOT do. For example, some nearby states do not have a ban on being in a park, thus a short road trip can afford you the opportunity to visit a park. In addition, the ban does not apply to federal parks, and there are a few of those in Illinois and the surrounding states. Finally, there is no law against visiting a private park (but be sure to check their rules before going!) 

While the Pepitone case was not filed by our partner attorneys, Illinois Voices did file an Amicus Brief (“friend of the court”). We applaud attorney Katherine Strohl for her efforts and dedication in this case. We will continue to support her as the case goes back to the lower court for consideration of the ex post facto claim. 

Please visit our website for updates on all of the legal cases we are mounting or following. And if you are able, please contribute to Illinois Voices so we can continue the fight against unfair and unconstitutional laws. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at Remember that we are all volunteers, so we may not be able to respond to every email or it may take some time for us to reply. 

As always, thank you for your support.   

Read the court’s decision here.
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