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Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes: IL Law Falls Short

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By Kamika Dunlap on November 20, 2009 1:10 PM

A gap in the Illinois law is part of the reason why most sex offenders living in nursing homes aren't listed on state police's online registry.

An investigation by the Chicago Tribune found facility administrators don't have to divulge the identities of sex offenders living in the homes. Instead, the law only requires homes to inform people of the state police online registry, which allows them to search for sex offenders by name (if known), city, county and ZIP code.

As a result state investigators say undercounting of sex offenders in nursing homes has become a serious problem. Many nursing homes are not safe and and consumers are not informed as facilities admit growing numbers of felons.

Here's the shortcoming of the law:

Although some sex offenders can remain dangerous for decades if unmonitored and untreated, many are no longer required to register with police if their convictions or final parole dates occurred more than 10 years ago.

Currently, California, Illinois, Minnesota and Oklahoma have laws requiring that long-term care homes receive notice about sex offenders who are admitted to their facilities.

Some states require notification of schools, churches or neighbors when a registered sex offender moves into an area. Fewer specify that nursing homes be informed when a sex offender is admitted.

Several states are now looking at laws addressing sex offenders in nursing homes and the notification procedures.

Although federal law requires every state to register sex offenders -- and to release information on their whereabouts when deemed necessary to protect the public. The law does not specify how -- or to whom -- states must give notice.

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