Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed the Steven Watkins Memorial Act into law. This critical bill provides noncustodial parents, mostly fathers, a strong defense against the very serious problem of visitation abuse in Illinois. Senate Bill 3823 was signed in the wake of the tragic shooting death of Cass County resident Steven Watkins while he was picking up his daughter for court-ordered visitation.
I feel strongly that the law is an important milestone in the pursuit of social justice. It should discourage custodial parents who unilaterally ignore visitation orders, providing penalties including suspension of the violator's driver's license, monetary fines and jail time.
Steven was a beloved resident. Visitation abuse plagues noncustodial parents throughout Illinois and the nation. We must prevent tragedies like this one. I commend the governor for his signature, and I know the law will set a powerful example for other states.
Jeffery M. Leving
Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood