While the Illinois Department of Corrections says an apartment building in Joliet housing several sex offenders is operating within the law, the city's mayor said he is working to find a solution after residents expressed concerns.
The building is located in the 1000 block of Cora Street in Joliet. There are now six convicted sex offenders living in the grey, brick building.
Illinois law says sex offenders cannot live at the same address, but last year, a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional, saying it violated the rights of the offender who had served their time.
In an emailed statement, NewDay Apartments told NBC 5 it provides safe and stable housing for registrants, within the bounds of the law and under the supervision of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
The Illinois Department of Corrections said it is aware several sex offenders were living in the apartment building. But in a statement to NBC 5, the department noted "these individuals, and their place of residence, are subject to a federal court order in ongoing litigation."
Some people who live on Cora Street said the apartment building has changed their quiet and quaint community.
“The other day, the kids asked if they could go out and play and I told them no and I felt horrible,” said Julie Williams. "They do need a safe place to live – but so does everybody else. Four houses across the street have now put up cameras -what else can we do to protect ourselves?"
Mykel Spights lives across the street from the building and has five young children.
“Considering the acts were mostly against children, I’m just not with it,” said Spights. “I’d prefer them to live somewhere else."
Joliet Mayor Bob Mayor O'Dekirk said the city is looking for solutions.
“There should have been more communication with school districts and with local officials and law enforcement,” said O'Dekirk. “It is unacceptable to put six sex offenders in one building in a community full of children – a school is three blocks away – a learning center a block away.”
Adele Nicholas with Illinois Voice for Reform, however, said there have historically been few alternatives for those released from prison.
"For a long time, the Illinois Department of Corrections kept people in prison because they didn't have a place to live and their time was over," Nicholas said.
She added that studies have shown having people who are on supervision living at the same address can be benefit for public safety.
"They are visited more frequently by parole officers," she said. "They keep each other on the right track because everyone is trying to preserve their freedom."
O'Dekirk said he has contacted Gov. J.B. Pritzker on the matter. Still, the issue may have to play out in federal court.