The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission called for abandoning the practice of requiring juveniles to register as sex offenders, which can severely restrict their life choices for at least 10 years and as long as the rest of their lives, the Associated Press reports. Illinois is one of 20 states that require registration regardless of the risk of re-offending. The commission’s research shows very few juveniles ever commit a sex crime again. “There is no persuasive evidence that subjecting youth to registries improves public safety or reduces the risk of future offending,” said chairman George Timberlake, a retired judge from southern Illinois. “The research simply does not indicate that registries repair harm to victims.”
In fact, the victim can be harmed by registries, too, the commission said. Because the victim is often a family member, he or she loses confidentiality and often the chance to resume familial relations with the offender regardless of the offender’s treatment progress, the group said. In Illinois, every juvenile convicted of a sex crime must register, and 70 percent of the 2,553 currently registered in the state must do so for life, the report said. There were 232 juveniles arrested for sex crimes in Illinois in 2010, down from 434 in 2004. More than half of juvenile sex offenders in the state are younger than 14.