Advocates of a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights aren’t looking for any new rights. The rights of victims to be heard in court, to be notified of progress in the court case involving the suspect, and to be notified when an imprisoned offender is released, have been part of the state Constitution since 1992. This new amendment, on the ballot in this election, would give those victims standing to enforce those rights, says State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).
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“Those who are victims of crimes and their families would tell you that as they traipse around from courtroom to courtroom, there are judges and prosecutors in the state that have just not given them the opportunity to be heard, just not given them the rights they deserve under the laws of our state and under our Constitution,” he said.
Campaign director Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins says there have been cases where there’s a mandatory sentence, so judges have told victims that their impact statements aren’t needed. This, she says, produces an incomplete record, which might come into play if the case is appealed or if the defendant subsequently applies for parole or clemency.
Advocates say judges and prosecutors largely observe the rights established in 1992; if voters approve the amendment, those victims will have a remedy if their rights are denied. The Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights applies only to victims of violent crimes. To become part of the Constitution, the amendment must be approved by 60 percent of the people voting on the question, or a majority of those voting in the election overall.