Daily Egyptian

Democratic Illinois state representative Natalie Phelps Finnie seeks re-election and to address judicial system loopholes

By Claire Cowley, Staff Reporter

Natalie Phelps Finnie is running for re-election as a democratic Illinois state representative. She said she’s advocating to change loopholes that benefit child predators.

Finnie said the kids are the ones suffering, they didn’t ask to be brought into this world and nobody seems to be a voice for them, so that’s what has compelled her to step up.

“Many of these children are living like animals, in horrible conditions and they’re filthy, dirty,” Finnie said.   

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Finnie said children are the ones suffering the consequences from the lack of jobs, drug problems, unemployment, generational poverty and all of the above.

“There [is] more than one loophole in laws that let child abusers walk free,” Finnie said.  

A loophole allows an individual or group to use some gap in the restrictions or requirements of the law for personal advantage without technically breaking the law, the legal definition, said.

“Our system is completing broken,” Finnie said. “The way the laws are set up, we’re more concerned about the rights of the predators.”

Finnie said the U.S. judicial system seems to be more concerned about predators rights than our children and we’ve got a problem.

“We have to fix a lot of these laws,” Finnie said. “These are giant problems [and] I’m not telling you I’m going to be able to fix these problems quickly or be there long enough to see the end result.”

However, Finnie said she can start the conversation.

Paul Brinker, an SIU professor and social work graduate coordinator, said if Finnie is looking to adjust limitations with kids who were assaulted as minors and give those kids voices for some legal resolve, he wouldn’t want to debate her.

“It’s worth the conversation,” Brinker said. “I think as a society, as we get more data, as we hopefully evolve as human beings, some of those considerations can be shifted along.”

Brinker said voting goes into pushing those agendas forward.

“From a treatment or helping standpoint, often times some of the legal process if done correctly can be rather cathartic to see some resolve to the perpetrator of such crimes,” Brinker said.

Brinker said he thinks there are statutes of limitations on everything but murder.

“This leaves the legal system very little they can do about that particular victim and circumstance, so then I would say that’s a bad thing,” Brinker said.

Brinker also said legislators are taking another look at some of those statutes.

Finnie’s state representative campaign opponent, a SIU law alumn, Patrick Windhorst, said Illinois has some strict laws on the books that need to remain and are important.

“There was a recent change in the law as it relates to people who bond out after being arrested that has created a issue in small or rural counties,” Windhorst said.

Windhorst also said this creates frustrations in the justice system because if offenders are not in jail, then they can get treatment for drugs and crime.

Windhorst said he is for term limits for legislators that contributes to problems in laws and Finnie is not.

“I am absolutely for term limits,” Finnie said. “We have people that have served way too long, the longer they’re there, the farther removed they are from our normal lives.”

Finnie said she makes sure she reads the facts and doesn’t know if Windhorst does also.

“So, there’s two things here, either he has read [information on Finnie] completely, knows the facts and doesn’t care or he is just letting somebody else run his campaign,” Finnie said.

Finnie also said that’s equally bad.

“I believe our people right here in southern Illinois deserve better and it is sad that our political process has come to [fighting],” Finnie said. “The whole process needs to be overhauled and revamped.”

Finnie said she thinks if people are more concerned about doing the right thing, then they are about their next election, she believes politicians can have good dialogue.

“And what will follow will be some real good changes,” Finnie said.  

A portion of southern Illinois will determine who will represent them in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Staff reporter Claire Cowley can be reached at ccowley@dailyegyptian.com.

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