Crime Victims' Bill Of Rights

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Springfield – Commit a crime and you have certain constitutional rights.  But victims in Illinois frequently have fewer rights than those carrying out the crime.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and crime victim advocates are pushing for passage of a state constitutional amendment called the Crime Victims' Bill Of Rights.  The measure appears on the November ballot and requires a “Yes” vote for passage.

“If victims believe that any of their rights have been violated this amendment will enable them to seek relief through our appellate courts,” Madigan told WAND News State Capitol reporter Doug Wolfe.

One provision of the amendment would allow victim impact statements in criminal cases.  Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins lost her sister, her sister's husband and their baby in a triple murder.  At sentencing she was denied the right to make a victim impact statement because the case carried a mandatory life sentence.

“I wanted to look the killer in the eye and make that victim impact statement so that he could hear what he took,” Bishop-Jenkins told WAND News.  “Those beautiful lives that were lost.  The total harm that he caused.  I don't think to this day he ever thought of anyone but himself.”

The Crime Victims' Bill Of Rights also provides the right to be informed of court proceedings, the right to be present at trials and hearings regarding their case and the right to have the safety of the victim and their family considered in deciding bail to the accused.

(Pictured: Attorney General Lisa Madigan through the view finder of a TV camera.)

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