Victims of crimes and advocate groups which typically support them are opposing sides when it comes to a new bill in the General Assembly.
The legislation would allow crime victims to be compensated for legal fees and court costs related to pursuing their cases. Lisa Kellogg says she’s felt neglected under the current system while trying to pursue charges against her ex-boyfriend.
“Criminals are given free attorneys and are protected by the Constitution, in total control of the court systems,” Kellogg said. “If this bill is passed, it will allow us as survivors to finally seek justice without the traumatic roadblocks by authorities.”
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But advocates like Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins of Marsy’s Law for Illinois are concerned victims will use all the funds available on legal fees, and open up the fund to misuse by attorneys.
“I’m personally not opposed to the idea in principle that the crime victim compensation fund might, in some form, be able to assist with some legal expenses—very carefully regulated and very carefully monitored,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins says only one other state, New Jersey, allows victims to use this sort of fund on legal fees, and caps that amount at $1,000, rather than the $27,000 which would be allowed in Illinois under the current bill.