SPRINGFIELD — Two pieces of legislation that would toughen state laws against stalking, as well as expand prosecutors’ ability to file charges against alleged rapists have been filed in Springfield.
House Bill 242 calls for modernizing state law on stalking by prohibiting the act of tracking another person through any available electronic means without a lawful reason.
Current law prohibits the placing of an electronic tracking device on another individual or their property, a distinction Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) fears does not go far enough to protect victims given recent technological advancements, such as location service tracking on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The legislation also would enhance criminal penalties for aggravated stalking, with those convicted facing as many as 15 years in prison if their victims suffer severe and permanent disabilities or disfigurement.
A 2012 U.S. Department of Justice report estimated that 3.3 million adults in the United States were victims of stalking over a one-year period.
Additionally, Mautino is backing legislation to protect victims of sexual abuse by expanding prosecutors’ ability to file charges against alleged rapists.
The measure calls for lengthening the statute of limitations in rape cases. Currently, the statute of limitations begins once the crime is committed.
Under the bill Mautino supports, the clock on the statute of limitations would not begin until the evidence from the rape is collected, transmitted and analyzed by the Illinois State Police.
The bill stems from concerns that rape kits may not be tested quickly enough or even lost and not tested at all, as in the case of Rosa Pickett of south suburban Robbins.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Pickett was beaten and raped in 1977, but evidence of the crime was lost and the statute of limitations on the crime ran out and no charges were filed. Adding to supporters’ concerns is that in recent years, the number of untested rape kits in Illinois has been as high as 4,000.