The Registry 20 Years Later
Discussing Unintended Consequences
In 1996, Illinois implemented a conviction-based sex offender registry. Legislators have since passed laws restricting housing, employment, education, travel, loitering, and holiday activity, and delineating exclusion zones. They also established new public registries for murder, violent offenses against youth, meth manufacturing, arson, and animal abuse.
There are now 29,000 people listed on the public state sex offender registry. Approximately 1 in 227 men in Illinois is labeled a ''sex offender." The rate is about 1 in 100 for African-American men. The Department of Corrections currently incarcerates 1200 people past their release dates due to the lack of approved housing.
Yet, research indicates that public registries and residency restrictions do not improve public safety, and have serious unintended consequences. Furthermore, the reciprocal connections between registration and poverty, racism, and disability have been unexplored, and the impact of social exclusion unaddressed. Current laws tend to stigmatize and debilitate families, and make it difficult for service providers to address re-entry, unemployment, homelessness, mental health treatment and other collateral consequences.
Give people with records a chance to move on, move up, and move out of the criminal justice system.
You can do your best to lead a positive and productive life and support your family, but the state of Illinois imposes barriers to housing, education, and employment.
Chicago 400 Alliance
Join our work group on conviction registries, housing banishment policies + public exclusion zones.
People on registries, family members, justice advocates, attorneys, and state officials are working together to advocate for policies that truly promote public safety. Our criminal justice policies should:
We are not a social service agency, so we do not have housing or legal services. Because these are urgent and serious needs, we are researching both.