Jones Keeps Fighting to Prevent Another Tragedy Like Burr Oak

Springfield, IL- Today, Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) passed legislation to strengthen oversight provisions put in place by the Cemetery Oversight Act (COA) signed into law in 2009.

Senate Bill 1853 provides law enforcement officials with a procedure for dealing with situations like the one that occurred at Burr Oak Cemetery in 2009, when at least 300 bodies were illegally dug up and discarded in a pile so that their gravesites could be resold. Thousands of other bodies buried at the cemetery, including infants, have not been accounted for by their survivors.


April 11, 2011                                       Larry Luster 217-782-0907     

“This is a tragedy that should never have happened,” Jones said. “It is unfortunate that we have pass legislation to ensure human remains are handled with respect, but clearly we do,” Jones said.

The legislation reaffirms the regulations put in place by the COA and further requires the county coroner to dispose of abandoned human remains.

“The legislation does not affect or diminish any criminal statute,” Jones said. “Cemeteries will continue to be subject to oversight regulations, honor consumer contracts, bury people in the proper places, and maintain records so family members can easily find their loved ones and appropriately maintain cemetery grounds.”

SB 1853 also reduces the amount of regulation on smaller not-for-profit cemeteries, which are usually family burial grounds or owned by churches. The COA charged smaller cemeteries exorbitant fees, fines, and penalties that forced some to close gates.

“Cemeteries are financially modest enterprises with permanent maintenance and record-keeping obligations,” Jones said. “By exempting smaller cemeteries from some of the stronger requirements imposed by the COA, smaller cemeteries can continue to operate.”

“Burr Oak Cemetery is not exempted from this legislation,” Jones said.

SB 1853 now goes to the House for further consideration.


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District Office
507 West 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60628
P. 773.995.7748
F. 773.995.9061

Springfield Office
108A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P. 217.782.9573
F. 217.782.5340