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Audit: Sex offenders not being monitored closely enough

Updated: July 7, 2011 1:48PM

SPRINGFIELD — A state commission set up, in part, to monitor more than 10,000 registered sex offenders has not set up a tracking system seven years after its formation, a state audit found Thursday.

The Sex Offender Management Board also failed to develop a way to observe the behavior and progress of freed sex offenders and didn’t identify a timeline to address those issues, Auditor General William Holland disclosed Thursday.

However, the board maintained it is hamstrung by state law and funding problems, making it difficult to carry out its mandate.

The Illinois Department of Corrections monitors newly paroled sex offenders or those still on probation, and high-risk sex offenders face lifetime monitoring by the state. Additionally, the Illinois State Police maintains an online database of sex offenders that shows their addresses and pictures to the public.

But under Illinois law, about two-thirds of registered sex offenders don’t face state supervision and aren’t compelled to cooperate with the Sex Offender Management Board, the board said in response to Holland’s audit.

Further, the board lacks a full-time staff and gets about $80,000 in state funding, leaving it hamstrung to carry out its duties, the board contended.

“The board plays an important but a very limited role in managing sex offenders. Essentially they provide guidance on best practices, but they’re not frontline supervisors for any part of sex offender management,” said the board’s chairwoman, Cara Smith.

Nonetheless, Holland’s findings triggered a brief outcry on the Illinois House floor Thursday.

“All the laws that we passed on sex offenders mean virtually nothing. What this shows is that the 10,039 registered Illinois sex offenders who are subject to tracking and monitoring, nothing is happening,” said Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo), who said he was “appalled” by Holland’s audit and demanded hearings.

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