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Campaigns & Elections

IL Crime Victims Advocates Urge Change in State Constitution

Catie Sheehan
Mac Strategies Group

Illinois voters will decide whether to put any teeth in the state's crime victims rights law. In next month's election, the ballot will include a proposal to amend the Illinois constitution. This morning at Family Resources in Moline, victims families, advocates, and two state's attorneys gathered to ask residents to "vote yes on the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights."

Moline resident, Dora Larson, says her ten-year-old daughter, Vicky, was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 1979. After the suspect was found guilty and sentenced, Larson started helping other victims and their families. 
She says state law already gives them rights including notification of court hearings, protection from harm, and presenting a victim impact statement in court. But the law is un-enforceable, and Larson gave an example from another county. 
Rock Island County State's Attorney, John McGehee, says if the constitutional amendment passes, victims will have "standing" before the courts in Illinois. That's something they don't currently have. 

The amendment would give victims legal standing, a substantial and significant legal right to address the court themselves or through attorneys.

Family Resources, the Illinois coalitions against domestic violence and sexual assault, the Illinois State's Attorney's Association, and other groups support the passage of the Crime Victims' Bill of Rights. It's similar to a California constitutional amendment passed six years ago.

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