New Law will Help Small Cemeteries Stay Open
Springfield, IL –In 2009, scandal rocked the Chicago-area African American community when authorities learned that Burr Oak Cemetery had been reusing human graves and callously discarding human remains. In response, the Illinois General Assembly passed sweeping cemetery regulation reforms. However, soon after the reforms became law, it became clear that they were so strict that small, private cemeteries would be forced to close their doors. State Senator Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago), a proponent of the original bill quickly began working with cemetery owners to find a reasonable solution. His compromise became law Monday.
“The tragedy at Burr Oak Cemetery was a terrible, but isolated incident. My colleagues and I acted too quickly, creating many unnecessary problems for law abiding cemeteries. This compromise will still protect consumers while also preventing cemetery closings.”
Even cemeteries with the financial resources to keep their gates open by complying with the new law would have been forced to divert their limited resources away from maintenance to pay for original cemetery reform laws many fees and legal requirements.
“The actions that took place at Burr Oak Cemetery broke many laws that were already on the books, laws with very serious felony penalties,” said Jones. “This compromise law does not affect or diminish any criminal statute, and cemeteries will continue to be subject to 51 different state laws. They will still be required to honor consumer contracts, bury people in the proper places, maintain records so that family members can easily find their loved ones, and appropriately maintain cemetery grounds.”