Press Releases

2013 case revealed technical loophole that could have prevented arrests

030514 js 0024CLRSPRINGFIELD - Late last year, a man who’d been legally declared a sexually violent person in Illinois, cut off his ankle monitor to evade authorities. When he was found, waiting on a train in St. Louis, he had a ticket in hand bound for Albuquerque, NM.

Police quickly worked to obtain an arrest warrant only to find a legal technicality in their way. The man in question wasn’t technically an escaped criminal. That’s because he’d been committed to state custody under civil proceedings -- not criminal proceedings.

So, when he crossed state lines, police were essentially powerless to use criminal laws to arrest him for hacking off the electronic monitor and thereby violating the terms of his conditional release.

Luckily, police learned that the escaped man had also stolen property before fleeing and were able to use that to obtain an arrest warrant and bring him back to Illinois.

However, in response to that near-miss situation, state Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is working with the Illinois Attorney General to advance legislation this spring to close the legal loophole that almost resulted in a sexually violent person simply walking away from state custody.

“No offender, especially a sex offender, should be able to escape our state because of a technicality,” Sen. Bush said. Her legislation -- Senate Bill 3332 -- was endorsed by the Senate Criminal Law Committee this month and now awaits a vote before the full Senate.

The proposed law would allow law enforcement to cross state lines to apprehend an escaped person and would also allow prosecutors to seek Class 2 felony charges, the penalties for which are up to seven years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

“We need to give law enforcement officials the necessary authority to take these people into custody,” Sen. Bush said.

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