State to keep list of meth makers
The names of people convicted of manufacturing the dangerous street drug known as meth will now be listed on an Internet registry maintained by State Police.
Gov. Blagojevich on Sunday signed a law authorizing the creation of a list of methamphetamine makers, which will include the person's age, offense, conviction date and the county where the drug arrest was made.
Once the registry is compiled and put online, it will provide police and the public with "one-stop shopping" for finding out if someone has previously been involved in the meth-making business.
"A landlord could use this [registry] to see if people who apply to rent a place have been involved with meth manufacturing before," Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said.
The governor also signed three other bills into law aimed at helping police catch bathtub pharmacists making meth, a powerful, highly addictive stimulant.
"These laws make it easier to track meth crimes, and help us prosecute people who are continuing to make and sell meth, especially in areas where meth has become a problem -- particularly in more rural communities," Ottenhoff said.
Meth has become a growing problem in Illinois. In 1997, police raided 24 meth labs. In 2005, police had shut down 973, according to state records.
In January a law went into effect requiring people to show identification and sign a log when buying cold medicine containing meth ingredients in Illinois.
The other three new meth-related laws, which go into effect immediately, aim to increase punishments for people circumventing that law by doubling the penalty for meth trafficking, or bringing the ingredients to make meth -- ephedrine or pseudoephedrine -- into the state with intent to sell, deliver or make the drug.
Boosting prison penalties to up to 15 years in jail for people convicted of engaging in identification theft to purchase meth ingredients. The state requires people show ID and sign a log to purchase cold medicine that contains meth ingredients.
A third law also allows hospitals to report suspicious burn injuries believed to be caused by making meth. Hospital staff can report the person's name, address and type of suspicious burn to a state fire marshal hotline. That information will be turned over to local investigators, according to the law.
"Methamphetamine is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs on the streets . . . We need to do everything possible to put a stop to the scourge of meth," Blagojevich said in a statement.
By Mark Konkol