4827388834 33014313d0SPRINGFIELD – People with certain criminal convictions on their record will be banned from working at a carnival, amusement park or fair under a new law passed by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

Senate Bill 3240 will increase fines for amusement park companies for failing to check the criminal history of new hires. Right now, only ride operators must undergo background checks.

“This is a matter of public safety,” Bennett said. “If a carnival company is bringing someone into our community to interact with our children, it doesn’t matter whether or not they are operating a ride or a carnival game; they should have a background check to make sure they are not a criminal.”

In 2014, Blayne Benefield was killed in Farmer City by two brothers who were employees of Big H Amusements, formerly known as A & A Amusements. While the amusement ride company was required to perform background checks on employees that operate rides, it did not have to do so for other employees.

Bennett said this is an important distinction because Big H Amusements claimed that the brothers were not considered ride operators, but photo evidence taken the night before the murder shows the older brother operating a ride. Both brothers had criminal records, with the younger one pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a minor one year before the murder.

“What happened to Blayne Benefield and his family was a tragedy,” Bennett said. “I am glad there is now a law in place to hold operators accountable to make sure they are conducting proper criminal history checks and doing everything they can to keep our communities safe.” 

The governor signed the law today. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

 
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