Our mission at IllinoisVictims.org is to advocate for and support the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of crime victims.
We share information, events, and news of interest to victims. We monitor legislation and policy matters that affect crime victims rights. We support Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, victim service professionals, and others such as first responders who help victims of crime.
While we do stand for enforcement of our rights, the pursuit of justice, crime and violence prevention, public safety, and appropriate offender sentencing, we are a diverse organization unified only by our mutual commitment to crime victims rights. We do not take any official stand on specific controversial side issues over which victims disagree, such as abortion, the death penalty, or gun control. Victims will all have deeply personal feelings on all issues pertaining to their victimization and all are welcome under this tent.
While many of our directors are homicide victim family members, domestic violence survivors, and victims of violent crime, our mission is to advocate for all crime victims rights.
This Website Is For YOU
Please join us on our Visitor’s Blog and share your stories of interest to crime victims. Please email us at IllinoisVictims@gmail.com and share any victim-related events or news items that we can post at the site.
IllinoisVictims.org began in 2006 as a website created by homicide victim family members who became aware of pending legislation in Springfield that could potentially endanger their families. They were stunned to find out how little victims knew about legislation that could impact them and their rights. The website began as an effort to better inform crime victims in Illinois about their rights, about resources available to them, and to refer them to helpful sources of information that they might need after the crimes committed against them.
Traffic to the website grew steadily and soon crime victims began to call and write IllinoisVictims.org as often as they might a public agency. Victims sent their own stories and activities and organizations to post there. We developed a mailing list and database. We started receiving media calls. We began to appear at press conferences and lobbying for victims rights in Springfield. We worked to pass some bills and defeat others. We were promoting victim advocates around the state.
We gave out our first Victim Hero Award in 2007 to Cook County States Attorney Richard Devine at his retirement in recognition of his creation of the Victim Witness Program in the nation’s largest unified court system. In 2008 we awarded Winnebago County Victim Advocate Barb Stone. And the tradition has continued. After several years of a growing presence in the media and public policy discussions, we emerged as the voice for victims rights in the state.
By 2009 active victim “members” decided to form a Board of Directors and view the website now as an organization. Our founders were both homicide victim family members Bill Jenkins and Jennifer Bishop Jenkins. Cur first President was Terry Mayborne, widow of a fallen law enforcement hero killed in the line of duty. The first board included homicide survivors, domestic violence victims, assault survivors, attorneys, and professional victim advocates. We only had the name of the website, IllinoisVictims.org, to go by.
We had much early success as we worked to get reforms to the Prisoner Review Board, oppose legislation that would have ended determinate sentencing in Illinois and retroactively paroled offenders sentenced to long or life sentences for extremely violent crime, and to engage our elected leaders on working for the interests of crime victims. We have partnered with our heroes in law enforcement, we have worked to educate the public on victims issues, and we have testified numerous times to increase attention to the needs for better victims services. Even as an all volunteer organization, we had done alot. Victims services in this state, as everywhere, are grossly underfunded and victims rights are inconsistently observed. Until that has changed, we will not rest.
We began to envision how Illinois Victims could fit into the national movement to protect crime victims. Conversations about how to better unify the national victims rights movement led to a conversation about naming the group in Illinois to connect to sister organizations in other states. During the year 2011 we adopted the name Crime Victims United of Illinois in solidarity with other victims rights groups, but a year later in January 2012 we returned to our original brand, Illinois Victims, because it was simpler and easier for everyone to find us.
The Illinois Coalition for Enforceable Victims Rights
In 2008 we had been among the first to join a collective effort to improve the wording of the Illinois Constitution to make sure that the rights can actually be enforced. Our partners include the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the States Attorneys, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and many other community and victims organizations. This vital legislation is on the move in Illinois now and we urge everyone to learn more here at this website!
The movement for enforceability of victims rights is a national one. Arizona, Oregon, and California have already passed such wording. We are next! See also www.MarsysLawForAll.com
Director, Marsy’s Law for Illinois