By KEVIN BESSLER
The Center Square
Legislation advancing in Springfield allowing a convicted criminal to change their name even if they must register with an Illinois agency is drawing criticism.
House Bill 2542 would amend several state statutes preventing Illinoisans from changing their names due to their inclusion on watchlists.
The bill would allow exceptions to the Sex Offender Registration Act, the Arsonist Registration Act and the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act for people who want to change their name.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) touted the measure as a victory for transgender rights when it passed the House last spring.
State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said this legislation is bad and is being quickly forced through during lame-duck session.
“We have sex offender registries and so forth for specific reasons, so why would you want to let them change their name and put that back on a victim to try to figure out what’s going on,” Bryant told The Center Square.
Illinoisans who change their legal name would be required to notify the local law enforcement agency in charge of their registration of the change. Their former name would still exist along with their new name in their criminal record, which is accessible for all law enforcement agencies, but Bryant worried victims are not notified.
Individuals who have not completed the terms of their sentence would be ineligible for a name change.
Bryant said victims of crime are getting lost in the shuffle.
“It is very frustrating here right now because it seems like offenders are being treated like victims, and victims are being treated like a pain,” Bryant said.
The measure is up for final passage and on the Senate’s calendar for Friday. Lame-duck session ends Jan. 10.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for The Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.