Illinois Murder Victims Families testified on both sides of the issue SB 3539 that would abolish Illinois' death penalty in favor of natural life sentences, but would also for the first time create a statewide program and funding to support and assist murder victims families, and supply funds for law enforcement as well.
Supporters of abolishing the death penalty, Randy Steidl, former death row inmate, left, and Gail Rice, whose younger brother, a Denver Police Officer, was shot to death, react after the Senate passed legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois while on the Senate floor during session at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield Tuesday.
A Press Conference held by Illinois' States Attorneys and murder victims families of death row inmates lobbied hard against the legislation, which did ultimately pass both houses. It now sits on the Governor's desk, awaiting Governor Quinn's decision.
ACTION ALERT: PLEASE CONTACT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE. SUPPORT HB 4650 –
PRISONER CENSUS ADJUSTMENT ACT.
In 2009 Dr Peters of Northern Illinois University will receive our Victim Hero of the Year award for his outstanding response to the NIU shooting massacre on February 14, 2008. His service to those victims families has been exemplary. More details on the presentation once arrangements are made.
On May 13, 2009 in Springfield, Illinois at the State Capitol, members of the IllinoisVictims.Org Board of Directors Terry Mayborne, Dora Larson, Kyle Kirts and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins will present the first ever LEGISLATOR HERO awards to a select and bi-partisan group of Senators and Representatives who have worked to serve the needs of Illinois Crime Victims in the General Assembly.
We gave the award to those who with their
bill sponsorship and their votes support Victims Rights as articulated in
Article I, Section 8.1 of the Illinois Constitution, who have stood up for a
balanced Prisoner Review Board, who work to preserve the integrity of the
Determinate Sentencing model in Illinois, who care about victim and public
safety, who value the needs and voices of victims of violent crime, and who hold
innocent and devastated murder victims family members as requiring resources and
attention equal to or even more than the offenders who committed the crimes.
Press Release and Media Advisory
This year’s Legislator Heroes are:
January 26, 2009, 9 a.m. Public Hearings will be held at the State of Illinois Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, in the Concourse Level Auditorium in Chicago. March 2, 2009 Hearings will be held in Springfield at the State Capitol. Room has not yet been assigned.
IllinoisVictims.org received a letter on January 5th inviting our members to come and offer testimony. Contact Jennifer with any questions.
Also, Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, founder of IllinoisVictims.org is a member of this legislative committee, appointed last year by the Governor.
We encourage all interested victims to come and testify! TOPIC: the only areas that the committee can address are regarding reforms made to the death penalty by the Illinois Legislature in 2003, not for example whether or not the state should have a death penalty. Some of these reforms include the creation of the Capital Litigation Trust Fund for defense and prosecution, new line up procedures, DNA and lab procedures, the video-taping of interrogations, etc.
More can be learned about this five year study process and all its previous reports can be viewed at http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/
One would have had to live under a rock the last 8 years in Illinois to not be aware of the huge controversy surrounding this important sentencing issue. The Illinois States Attorneys' Association, reporting frustration with the "legal limbo" of the moratorium for the victims families, have urged the Illinois Legislature to take up the question of the moratorium and the death penalty itself. The hearings were September 18, 2008 in Chicago.
Many of the victims family members of those killed by these 14 death row inmates listed below were informed, invited and supported to testify with victim advocate staff caringly present. Others sent letters read by victim advocates. Also present and testifying were murder victims family members who believed the death penalty is bad for victims.
COOK COUNTY CASES
Ricardo Harris :
Victims: Dipak Patel and Ambalel Patel killed, Injured but survived Christine Chesnick and Helen Chisnick
Teodora Baez -
Victims Juan Estrada and Janet Mean
Victim is ex-girlfriend Henrietta Banks
Paul Runge -
Victims are Yolanda Gutierrez and her daughter Jessica Muniz
Dion Banks -
Victim was carjacking victim Rose Newburn
Rodney Adkins -
Victim - Catherine McAvinchey in Oak Park
DUPAGE COUNTY CASES:
Victims - his two parents, sister and brother in law. Only family is surviving sister?
Victim was Erin Justice, his 16 year old stepdaughter
Brian Nelson -
Victims are his former girlfriend, and three other people in Custer Park - we do not have names
Anthony Mertz -
Victim in Danville was Shannon McNamara
Victim for which he is on Death Row is Cassandra Corum from Indiana. There are two other victims he killed in Cook County as well at Wolf Lake - for which he is not on death row
Victim was 10 year old girl Amy Schultz
Daniel Ramsey - was 19 at time of crime
Victims - two teenage girls, and wounded his former girlfriend - we don't have names.
Approximately 260 prisoners sentenced indeterminately before 1978 still go through annual parole reviews - a process long since done away with for the rest of Illinois' victims. In 1978 the determinate sentencing system was put in place which calculates release strictly on the basis of the sentence, and in some crime allowing for good time early release credits that are objectively calculated by the prisoners' own behavior and not by a review board that can be biased.
This system in place for 30 years now is best for victims. Meanwhile, hundreds of victims families still have to work each year to collect petition signatures, send letters, take off work, go to hearings in Springfield and at the prisons, etc. This is an agonizing LIFE SENTENCE for them, and their children, and now even their grandchildren.
SB 2254 and HB 5908 will require that the FULL PRB will hear victims' protests if they might release an inmate. This is what should be required in any case because the PRB's enabling statutes require that victims' protests be "considered". But right now, only one of the 15 PRB members hears the victims concerns.
Thank You, Senator Haine and Rep Chapin Rose, for sponsoring this
designed to protect the voices of victims in the parole process of "C
before the Prisoner Review Board.
This opportunity to help law enforcement, protect yourself, prevent crime, and save lives is sent by an IllinoisVictims.org member who is a former law enforcement office, turned lawyer and prosecutor:
In 2002 and 2003, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police testified in favor of making an emergency PIN system mandatory on all ATMs in the state. The purpose was to give the victims of forced ATM withdrawals at least a chance to call for help. Their testimony was that it would deter crime and save lives. In 2004, 205 ILCS 616 sec 50, (i) made the system mandatory on all ATMs in the state. A follow on bill (HB4652) was passed however which reversed the original law and now actually discourages the banking industry from adopting the system by granting them tort immunity if they do not adopt it. That’s not a typo. IF the bankers do what the police testified they should do, then they lose tort immunity. If they ignore what the police say they should do, they are punished by losing their tort immunity. Since the law was gutted, in Illinois, Doyle Parker (Carmi), Robert Armfield, (New Baden), Lynne Weiss (Elgin), Mark Evans (Chicago) and god only knows how many others have been murdered for their PINs and ATM cards. In addition, at least five serial killers, Tameka Newson, Martha Jean and their boyfriends. (Chicago Tribune, March 29th 2005) and Bruce Mendenhall (Albion Indy Star, April 11, 2008), all from Illinois, have been arrested. No one knows for sure how many people Newson and Jean have killed, but thanks to DNA, the police know of at least ten of Mendenhall’s victims.
I can guarantee you that some, if not all of those victims could have called for help with the system, but the legislature snatched it away from them, guaranteeing that no one would know of their distress. Mendenhall, Newson and Jean may be the ones who pulled the trigger, but the legislature whispered in their ears, “Go ahead. We made sure they can’t call for help.”
It would cost the banking industry $10 million at the outer limit to adopt the software nationwide. In Illinois, it could be done for less than $200,000. All it would take would be a requirement that all state chartered banks offer the service to their depositors. By comparison, when the EPA evaluates the financial cost to business of new regulations, they the loss of a human life as being a harm to society equal to $6.9 million. In a wrongful death law suit, a human life is generally going to result in a $2 to $3 million judgment.
The banking industry’s real problem is that they don’t want to admit that the problem exists, and in a technical way, it doesn’t. Without a crime code section to address the issue, the crime statistician cannot track the problem. There is an easy solution to this though and that is to require all ATM owners to send the Illinois State Police a master list of ATM addresses in the form of an email with the addresses attached in the form of a spreadsheet. The ISP already has all the personnel, hardware and software to do the work, it just lacks the information. This would allow the researcher to pull up all crimes related to the ATM just by overlaying the crime code sections for robbery, home invasion, carjacking, murder, attempted murder, rape and missing persons against the master list of addresses. (I’ve confirmed this with the Illinois State Police) Naturally, I’ve made this suggestion to the state police in other states and I’ve met with positive results. Illinois’ own Bruce Mendenhall is just one of several serial killers reported in the news recently. Gary Michael Hilton, Thomas Jeffrey Brooks and someone known as the “Town Mall Killer” have been in the news this year. All of these serial killers were able to operate in the dark because the banking lobby has blocked efforts to track and objectively analyze the problem. Because the problem was not tracked each of their victims was treated as a discrete, unrelated incident. There is now way for the police to search their own archives for this crime. A killer’s photo could be in a police file in Peoria, and not connected to the murder in Joliet. If the state were to pass a law making a forced ATM withdrawal its own crime, a database of these crimes would be created. The pattern would be identified and more criminals caught. But, in 2005, the banking lobby successfully blocked House Bill 4155, so no crime bill was passed and Bruce Mendenhall was allowed to run free. Between the ATM addresses and a criminal statute, the police would be able to track the problem and make arrests much sooner. But, that would disrupt the bankers’ marketing model.
An hysteric would accuse the legislature of conspiring with the banking lobby to kill those people. And if the legislature were just a private organization, there’d be some merit to it. But, having admitted it’s NOT a conspiracy, I have to ask what difference would it make if it were? The result is the same.
Legislation is being drafted. When a number is assigned, it will be posted here. Contact IllinoisVictims.org for more information.