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Illinois Removes Family Exemption For Assisting Fugitives

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Thursday removing a loophole that allowed immediate family members to help fugitives escape the country without legal penalty. Illinois was one of 14 states to have such an exemption.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Thursday closing a loophole that exempted family members who helped fugitives flee the state from criminal prosecution. Illinois had been one of just 14 states to grant such an exemption. Under the new law, helping immediate family members evade prosecution becomes a felony punishable by one to three years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000.

“It is my duty to keep the people of Illinois safe and ensure we have a sound criminal justice system,” Quinn said in a statement. “This legislation will prevent criminals from evading punishment and help us bring them to justice.”

The legislation came about partly due to a series in The Chicago Tribune, “Fugitives from Justice,” which showed cases of relatives helping fugitives - some of whom were guilty of murder.

“We can’t have a system where people are hiding criminals,” Democratic Sen. Ira Silverstein, one of the sponsors of the bill, told The Chicago Tribune. “I’ll give kudos to the Tribune for bringing this to everyone’s attention. This loophole had to be closed.”

The new law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.
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