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New Findings About Juvenile Sex Offenders

Updated: Saturday, April 19 2014, 05:15 PM CDT
Results of a new study by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission call on Illinois lawmakers to change the law removing all juvenile sex offenders from the state's registry.

"If you take one of these children and they're provided with effective treatment... We observe that in the future, putting them on a registry severely limits their ability to go to school, get a job, to do anything productive," said Jeff Bradley, a staff member with the commission.

Bradley is also a former Jefferson county state's attorney and now works with the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. He says the reasons children may break the law are much different than adults.

"A lot of times there's conduct we see when they come in conflict with the law that really has more to do with their lack of maturity, their lack of social skills, their lack of understanding as opposed to some sort of paraphilia, which we see with adult offenders," Bradley said. "We also found that treatment - if it's individualized, family-based, based in the community - is extremely effective and much more cost effective than simple incarceration."

A report by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission finds youth sex offenders are not likely to become adult offenders, yet some have to register for life.

From a law enforcement perspective, Sangamon county Undersheriff Jack Campbell worries removing all sex offenders age 17 and younger from the registry may go too far.

"Our hope would be that it's looked at on a case by case basis. maybe there's some recognition of some teenagers simply got caught up in the nuances of the law versus a violent sex offender," Campbell said.

UPDATED 5:26 p.m. March 25

Sex offenders under the age of 17 could be removed from the state sex offender registry. That's if the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission gets its way.

The recommendation comes after a study was released showing very few juveniles who commit sex crimes ever offend again. The study also shows juveniles that are registered sex offenders have a difficult time bettering their lives.

But a spokesman for the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department says it can't support the proposal because it paints all juvenile sex offenders with the same brush.

"There are times with juvenile offenders maybe have like a Romeo and Juliet situation where they're not too far apart in years, and yet they're convicted of some sort of sex crime," Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell said. "We think that there should be some tolerance there, but yet on the other hand, we have some violent offenders that may not meet that classification."

The Juvenile Justice Commission also wants the courts and law enforcement statewide to adopt an assessment guide to evaluate the risk of juvenile sex offenders re-offending.

The study was requested by the General Assembly in 2012, but no word on if it will lead to any new legislation. UPDATED: New Findings About Juvenile Sex Offenders
New Findings About Juvenile Sex Offenders

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