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Legislators Propose Tougher Funeral Home Regulations

New legislation has been filed in response to the disturbing story of a Carlinville funeral home that repeatedly mishandled human remains, including providing the wrong remains to the families of people who had been cremated.

Senator Steve McClure, Senator Doris Tuner, Representative Mike Coffey, and Representative Wayne Rosenthal have unveiled new legislation designed to stop similar horrific events from ever happening.

“Families who have lost a loved one have suffered enough already, it is unconscionable for anyone to try to victimize them in their time of sorrow,” said Senator McClure. “This legislation is designed to make sure human remains are treated with the serious dignity and respect that are required, that bereaved families are treated fairly, and that anyone who violates the law is punished accordingly.”

In the fall of 2023, Sangamon County coroner Jim Allmon launched an investigation into a funeral home and crematorium in Carlinville, leading to allegations that the business provided more than 60 families with the wrong remains, with some of the remains being permanently lost, and that the business improperly stored bodies, allowing them to decompose in unrefrigerated settings.

“Families that have been impacted by these horrible crimes by the director of this funeral home will have lasting grief,” said Rep. Rosenthal. “I fully support Senator McClure’s legislation and will be filing identical legislation in the House to ensure no family has to ever endure suffering like all the families affected by these criminal acts.”

“Proper authorities failed many families by not acting quickly on such heinous allegations that were brought forth against the funeral home director,” said Rep. Coffey. “Legislation must be passed to protect families in the future and to deter criminal practices within funeral homes.”

Unfortunately, many of the potential issues with the Carlinville business may not have been criminal in nature, due to weak laws regarding the handling of human remains.

Senate Bill 3263 would make it a Class 4 Felony to knowingly and intentionally provide inaccurate documentation of the identity of human remains, to knowingly and intentionally store human remains in violation of Illinois law, or to knowingly and intentionally provide misidentified human remains. The law would apply to all individuals authorized to treat, transport, or store human remains, which would include funeral homes and crematoriums.

Representatives Rosenthal and Coffey are filing identical legislation in the Illinois House.

“After working with dozens of people that were victimized by these egregious acts it was clear that there needed to be some common sense legislation introduced to help prevent or deter this from happening again,” said Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon. “I am thankful for the hard work these officials have put in to creating this bill and look forward to seeing it passed.”

Senator Turner’s SB 2643 measure would reestablish integrity and trust in the death care industry by putting procedures and protocols in place that aim to prevent the misidentification and misplacement of dead bodies or human remains, and conduct that results in a method of final disposition that differs from what is stipulated by the deceased individual or the deceased’s next of kin.

“When we lose a loved one, we expect a funeral home to respect their remains,” said Turner. “We are talking about a person who has family and a story of their own. It is vital that we ensure no family has to receive the dreaded call that the remains they received belong to someone else. This has become a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed.”


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