Innocent Until Proven Guilty? Not if You’re a Doctor in Illinois.

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The idea that you’re “innocent until proven guilty” is already a joke, since the deck is stacked against criminal defendants and the government can lock you up before trial.

Now, though, it’s even worse, if you’re a doctor or other healthcare professional in Illinois.

Under a new measure just passed by the state legislature, health workers who are charged with a sex crime, criminal battery against a patient, or a forcible felony will be immediately punished upon being charged. Simply because they have been charged, they won’t be allowed to see patients anymore except in the presence of another health worker, which presumably will render many or most people who are charged instantly unemployable. (And even if you’re eventually found not guilty, good luck explaining to your next would-be employer why you left your last job.)

Doctors’ patients will also receive a letter from the government notifying them of the charges — but reminding them that the doctor is innocent until proven guilty, which I guess is supposed to make all of this okay, even as it ruins good people’s careers.

Of course this all amounts to a huge grant of power to prosecutors who are already much too powerful. Now they can instantly ruin the career of anyone they choose in the medical field. Other professions will follow, I’m sure, and eventually it will be all of us.

10:08 am on May 21, 2011