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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Judges are forced to restrict travel

A new Illinois law requires judges to confiscate the passport or restrict the travel of a person charged with first-degree murder or another violent crime if the court determines the defendant is a flight risk.
Previous state laws gave judges more discretion on whether to take such steps.
The change was sparked by a 2012 Tribune investigation, "Across the Border, Beyond the Law," that found hundreds of Chicago-area defendants charged with murder, rape and other violent crimes avoided trial simply by crossing a U.S. border. At cursory bond hearings in murder trials, county judges often failed to confiscate passports or impose other travel restrictions, even when the accused was a citizen of another country.
"This closes a huge loophole that was brought to my attention by the Chicago Tribune," said the law's sponsor, state Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago. It was signed Friday by Gov. Pat Quinn.
Two state laws have now been enacted as a result of the Tribune series. The other made it a felony for a family member to help prevent a fugitive's arrest or aid in his or her escape from a jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.

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