Alderman wants sex offenders banned from libraries in summer

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Chicago’s 78 public libraries would be off-limits to registered sex offenders during summer months, when the buildings tend to be overrun with children, under a pre-emptive public safety crackdown proposed by a Southwest Side alderman.

Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) said he’s the father three young daughters acting out of concern for his own children and the 600 kids who participated in the summer library program at West Lawn Library, 4020 W. 63rd St.

The library is a block away from the alderman’s ward office.

“We had a graduation ceremony there and I got to thinking about safe havens. If we’re going to be promoting our libraries as safe havens, we have to make sure our laws keep up with the promotion,” Quinn said Thursday, hours after the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago ordered a massive document dump in the priest sex abuse scandal.

“Nothing happened [at that ceremony]. But, I’m also the father of three little girls. I look at life through a different lens. I want to take precautionary measures for all of the children. This isn’t a reaction to any incident. It’s understanding what we’re doing as a city today. There’s no ban on sexual predators at libraries and I got to thinking that, at the very least, we should” have one.

The ordinance, quietly introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, states that “it shall be unlawful for any registered sex offender to enter or otherwise be present in the Chicago Public Library or any of its branches at any time during the summer.”

The ban would be in effect from June 1 through Aug. 31.

Libraries would be required to post signs outlining the ban “in a conspicuous place” at every entrance. Violators would face daily fines ranging from $500 to $1,000, the ordinance states.

As of Nov. 1, there were 30,328 registered sex offenders in Illinois. The registry includes 27,702 adults and 2,626 adjudicated juveniles whose names are not posted on the state’s website because they are under 18, according Illinois State Police spokesperson Monique Bond.

Shannon Breymaier, a spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, withheld judgment on the proposed library ban, except to say: “We are happy to review this proposal and work with the alderman to achieve his objectives.”

Quinn said he’s been working with the city’s Law Department for the last four months — and struggling with the thorny issue of how the ordinance would be enforced.

Since kids do homework in libraries year-round, Quinn was asked why he proposed a ban only during summer months.

“That’s what I’m [still] going back and forth with,” the alderman said.

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