When one of the nation’s most liberal states takes on something like a murder registry, it’s worthy of attention and easy to imagine a growing trend. The Illinois senate recently approved legislation aimed toward creating a registry for individuals released from prison after they’ve served a sentence for murder. “Andrea’s Law” — named after Andrea Will, who was murdered by a fellow student while studying at Eastern Illinois University in 1998 — would combine a new registry for convicted first-degree murderers with an existing Illinois child murderer’s registry.
Will’s murderer, Justin Boulay, was released from prison after serving half his term and moved to Hawaii, which prompted an outcry that led to the new legislation. Parents of the victim felt that notification would be important. Similar to the sex offender registry, convicted first-degree murderers would be required to appear on a murder registry for 10 years after they get out of prison.
Is the Murder Registry Just Another Way to Make Us Feel Better?
On one hand it all seems to make sense. From a citizen’s standpoint, we all check the sex offender registry map to see where the offenders are living in our community and the ability to do that with a released convicted murderer has some appeal. On the other hand, it seems like a sort of double jeopardy that will make it nearly impossible for someone who has paid the penalty to ever get back into society.
And if it’s to serve its intended purpose, why would it be limited to just first degree murder? How about second degree murder (which is often first degree murder that has been negotiated down)? How about drug offenses where someone sells narcotics to a child? How about all the other ways in which people end up wrongly dead? Where does it stop? What’s enough?
If you can accept the logic that we need to do this in the interest of public safety so we’re going to do it now – what do you do about the person who got out of jail 9 years ago? What about the argument that you committed a crime, fulfilled your sentence, and are now trying to lead a productive and normal life?
Could this be just another list that makes people feel better without any real benefit? If you look at the Sex Offender Registry, study after study has shown it’s done little more than make people feel good. And from an employment screening perspective, a good background screening firm will easily find murder information with a reasonable background check. So we don’t see the list being necessary from that standpoint. Not to mention, having access to the registry could easily get companies into trouble when it comes to accessing the list without full information needed to judge the results according to EEOC and fair hiring guidelines.
Truthfully, as a background screening company we are simply unsure about this one. We are very interested in your opinion as we seek clarification regarding our stance on this.
What’s your opinion? We welcome your comments and feedback.