House approves murder registry

By Editorial Board

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a bill on April 5 that would require people convicted of first-degree murder to register on a list similar to the sex offender registry. The legislation, called “Andrea’s Law,” is named after Andrea Will, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1998 while attending Eastern Illinois University as a freshman. Parolees convicted of first-degree murder will remain on the list for 10 years after their release from prison opposed to the sex offender registry, which is

for life.

It’s not surprising that the bill was passed in a 97-1 vote. People want and have a right to know when somebody with a dangerous and violent past moves into their neighborhood. They should know if the person they’re beginning to date or becoming close friends with has murdered someone in the past. Nobody wants to leave his or her children in the care of someone who was convicted of first-degree murder.

Opponents of the bill claim the registry will just reinforce social stigmas attached to ex-cons and make it more difficult for them to get jobs and reintegrate into society. However, people who committed premeditated first-degree murder brought that upon themselves.

Even though people might be comforted to have this registry available, there aren’t many practical applications of the information it provides. The list won’t help people protect themselves from serial killers or people likely to kill again because those offenders aren’t the ones being released from prison. If inmates are released or paroled, it’s usually because they were evaluated, and the justice system decided they no longer pose a threat to society.

While it’s good for people to have access to information about their neighborhoods, that information—along with the presence of a convicted murderer in the area—doesn’t make a neighborhood any safer or more dangerous than it was before. If anything, it could lead to violence against the ex-cons if the registry inspires acts of vigilantism against them like the sex offender registry has in the past.

The bill’s fate now rests with the Illinois Senate. Legislators should keep both the positive and negative implications of the proposal in mind when making a final decision. As long as the registry doesn’t lead to any more violence, it could be a good way to keep the public more informed about its surroundings, even if it doesn’t directly keep people any safer.