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Daily Journal
April 10, 2023
#36-100 KDJ

The state is supposed to protect those in

By Ron Jackson

I love Illinois. I was born, raised and have resided here two-thirds of my life. I have spent one-third of my life in two other beautiful states. I also understand and respect those who feel they must move elsewhere. But I seriously appreciate home. However, the way we do some things here can be baffling.

In Illinois, we value guns and children. Probably in that order. The state has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country. Not quite as exacting when it comes to all children.

In order to legally posses a gun in the state, one must be approved by the Illinois State Police. Residents must meet certain qualifications to obtain a Firearms Owner Identification or FOID. To meet the requirements of the public safety initiative, the rules are simple. A few disqualifiers include, having been convicted of any felony, any domestic violence offense, assault, illegal drug convictions or having been discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions.

There are also some mental health disqualifications. The state does not want guns in the wrong hands.

When it comes to keeping children out of the wrong hands or care of people, the state process is not so clearly defined. The Department of Children and Family Services has the formidable task of placing children in the right hands or care. It seems that where we allow children to be placed is not given the same scrutiny as where we allow guns.

Erick Johnson is a 24-year-old with an impressive criminal record. A three-time felon, he has served time for a firearms violation and multiple robbery convictions. Johnson has also been accused of sex trafficking. Erick Johnson could never pass muster for a FOID and cannot legally possess a gun in Illinois. Conversely, Johnson could and did qualify for a foster care license and was paid to care for a 16-year-old female who had been sexually abused. Johnson has been charged with sex trafficking the girl while in his care in Cook County.

How could a man with such a background be trusted with the custody and care of a very troubled and victimized teenage girl? A man not trustworthy enough to hold a gun was approved by the state and given the responsibility of a 16-year-old merely months after he was released from jail? And he was paid by the state while he profited even more by essentially pimping the child.

In Johnson’s case, DCFS approved him as a foster care provider without licensing on a “fictive kin” placement. Meaning he was familiar to the victim in a nonbiological or legal familial kinship. Because of Johnson’s emotionally significant relationship with the child or her family, she was placed in his care without the required criminal background check.

I have completed the process for a FOID. It took several weeks to receive my card. I also completed two required questionnaires to be considered for a federal trial juror. The processes for both entailed responding to some very probing inquiries. Because some questions were of very dated events, I was not sure of the answer. Nothing wrong with my memory. It was just that the events or relationships have been filed in the no longer relevant region of my mind. And I am sure the government already knows the correct answer.

The state would never authorize a known, convicted gangbanger to possess a gun and place a gun in his or her hands. Why would the state grant an accused sex trafficker a custodial permit of a sexually abused victim and place her in his hands?

The state is supposed to act as the protector of the hens from the fox. In this bizarre but not so isolated case, the state served the hen directly to the fox.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com

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