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Leave it to Illinois to make sure violent criminals have state sponsored work. Would you believe the state could pay a convicted rapist to baby sit children? The Chicago Tribune reports:

Cornelius Osborne may not seem like baby-sitting material.

He was convicted of raping two women. A succession of felonies, from robbery to failing to register as a sex offender, repeatedly sent him to prison, state records show.

But over more than two years, the state paid Osborne nearly $5,000 to baby-sit two children, before his latest conviction — for dealing drugs — put him back behind bars.

Osborne, of Chicago, wasn’t the only sex offender paid by taxpayers to baby-sit, according to a Tribune investigation that found cases of convicted rapists, molesters and other violent felons given access to children over the past decade. The money comes from a $750 million-a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished Illinois families.

The Tribune states that they found no cases of harm to any children. However State Senator Matt Murphy, who pushed a law to require background checks, finds the outrageous news extremely frustrating. He stated to the Tribune:

“You’re talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating, an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid, that’s frankly not a situation that I find acceptable.”

One instance of the horrifying oversight in part of the state is Cornelius Osborne. When his sister turned in an application for him to receive state funded subsidies to baby-sit her children, he only reported his “drug-trafficking” conviction, a crime that actually did not disqualify him from becoming approved. He failed to mention that he served time in prison for rape, robbery and kidnapping, and due to the lack of complete background checks, Osborne was approved.

About 50% of the participants in the program come from Cook County, where the non-profit Illinois Action for Children administers the subsidies. However Illinois only requires licensing if you are watching four or more un-related children, leaving 60,000 of the 70,000 workers in the program without thorough background checks by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Again from the Tribune:

As part of a routine, wide-ranging audit of Human Services, state auditors compared the addresses of state-paid baby sitters with the sex offender registry. They found two payments made that year to a registered sex offender at the offender’s address. Also, 83 baby sitters lived at addresses where sex offenders were registered, according to the auditors’ report.

The audit didn’t name the offenders, but one may have been Tremayne Huey, who was convicted in 2004 under an alias for having sex with an underage girl, according to court records. On two baby-sitting applications filed before the law took hold, prior convictions were left blank or denied, state records show.

Huey could not be located for an interview, but Human Services records show his address at homes in Blue Island and Chicago Heights — the same addresses where both his real name and alias had been listed on the state’s sex offender registry. Still — even after the auditors’ report — Huey kept getting checks.

He received nearly $4,800 from taxpayers for two stints as a baby sitter, the last one ending in March 2010, according to state records.

The state said it didn’t fully begin checking the sex offender registries for the names of unlicensed baby sitters until September 2010 — 13 months after the law took hold — and only began full background checks on non-relative baby sitters in February 2011.

The state has made payments to many individuals most of us would never want anywhere a child. Including $44,000, which has gone to Ester L. Davis, after having a felony marijuana possession conviction, a crime that should prohibit taking part in the program.

Sadly there are no systems in place to ensure violent sexual offenders are screened from the program, or they don’t reside in a home where someone else is paid by the state to watch children. The Tribune found 126 baby sitters still received checks at Chicago-area addresses where parolees were living this summer.

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