Proposal To Ban Sex Offenders From County Fairs

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By Evie Allen
By Loreto Cruz III

MARION -- Some Illinois lawmakers want to make fairs safer for children by banning sex offenders.

Current law says registered child sex offenders can not work at county fairs, but it doesn't stop them from attending.

"Sex offenders is something we're always going to keep an eye on," says Williamson County Deputy Brian Murrah.

He admits he's never seen a problem with sex offenders at fairs in his 17 years on the job. But that doesn't mean offenders aren't around.

"As a customer, patron, parent, anything like that, they have just as much rights to be there as anybody else," Murrah says.

Now, some Illinois lawmakers say convicted sex offenders don't deserve that right. They'd like to add county fairs to the list of places, like parks and schools, where offenders are banned.

"There's no way of knowing who they are," says Saline County Fair President Chris Evans.

He believes the law would keep fairgoers safer, but he's not sure how it would be enforced.

"Even if you had a list, we don't ask people's names or write down their names when they come through the gate. We just take their admission and give them the ticket," Evans adds.

Murrah agrees such a restriction could be nearly impossible to enforce and wonders if the law would create unnecessary worry.

"We don't want to create paranoia or a fear. The fair is a safe place to go to, " says Murrah.

The legislation is still under consideration in Springfield. There is no time frame on when it could be put up for vote.

The law would not cover state fairs or other events like the Murphysboro Apple Festival.  
 
Festival orgranizers say they're working with the city on the issue.
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