New Illinois bill increases penalties for crimes against DCFS workers

(FILE) Illinois State Capitol Building
(FILE) Illinois State Capitol Building(Source: Gray TV)
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - In light of the recent killing of a Department of Childhood and Family Services social worker, new Illinois legislation has been brought to the Illinois General Assembly.

The historic bill know as the Knight-Silas Bill, comes after the tragic deaths of two DCFS caseworkers, Deidre Silas and Pam Knight, who were killed while on the job. Social workers, who are predominately women from diverse backgrounds, are essential workers who are often thrust into dangerous situations, say legislators.

“Deidre Silas and Pam Knight met the challenges of their work with heart and commitment, doing everything they could to ensure the safety of children,” says Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This legislation seeks to protect the other men and women of DCFS who give the same dedication and passion to this heroic work.”

The Knight-Silas Bill proposes that DCFS employees be granted the same protections as police, firemen, private security employees, correctional officers, and other first responders, saying that charges be increased to a Class 1 felony offence for a person who causes harm, permanent disability or disfigurement to a DCFS employee.

“We have to make it clear that we will not tolerate any kind of violence against the people who are working to protect kids and families,” says State Senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield). “I am proud to be a chief co-sponsor of this legislation, as I was honored to be a chief co-sponsor of similar legislation in the past. I am hopeful that we can finally advance this idea, particularly to honor the memory of Deidre Silas and her public service to our state’s most vulnerable children and families.

Lawmakers say it is not the extent of harm or injury that sanctions the aggravated battery charge to be brought, but rather the status of the victim as a DCFS employee.

“Our DCFS workers dedicate their careers to our most vulnerable children, living in pursuit of the belief that every child should have a safe place to call home,” says Governor JB Pritzker. “I’m working with the General Assembly to enhance the penalties for adults who harm DCFS workers to align with the protections for other first responders – in honor of Deidre Silas, in honor of Pam Knight, in honor of all our DCFS employees, and in honor of all who live in service to others.”

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