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OUR MISSION and PRINCIPLES at IllinoisVictims.org
Why We Are Here and What We Believe

We at IllinoisVictims.org are a group of victims of violent crimes that occured in the State of Illinois. We have affiliated ourselves with the National Coalition of Victims in Action.

We know it is a now undisputed right nationally, in all 50 states, and Federally, in law and in Constitutions, that victims should be empowered to be notified of and empowered to be heard in their cases, if they wish. Yet, often matters affecting victims, such as legislation and prison release, happen without the affected victims being told. We have created this website as a clearinghouse of information to help all crime victims in Illinois know about, and be able to act on, if they wish, any matters of interest to their lives.

Read this testimony to the Illinois Attorney General's Crime Victims Roundtable to see a summary of issues we are working to support and an important list of things that need to be done to improve victims services in Illinois.

IllinoisVictims.org began in 2006 in response to threatening legislation that would lead to early release of inmates who were convicted killers, a retroactive change in their sentences without notification to the victims families. In early 2009 IllinoisVictims.Org adopted By Laws, elected a statewide Board of Directors and began to seek non-profit status. Our Board of Directors is listed below.

We understand the term "victim" not to be one of disempowerment but a legal description that should empower us to stand up for the rights we have been guaranteed in state constitutions and statutes. We are victims because we were unwillingly drawn into a criminal case through the choices of others behaving criminally. We must respond to concerns about our well-being and public safety.

Part of our function is as a victims rights watchdog group to keep an eye on the actions and initiatives of those who may not understand or accept how they would affect victims and survivors of crime.  We will attempt to communicate information on legislation, Department of Corrections, prison reform groups, and any other activity that might be of interest to victims in Illinois and which may call for action or input by those families.  We seek particularly to support the needs and interests of murder victims families, while supporting all victims of violent crime and victims rights issues. Other victim organizations in the state support the interests solely of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, etc. We will continue to serve as an information clearing house and resource on any victims' issue.

Please send us any items of interest that you would like to see included in this information clearinghouse. Anything of concern to victims is appropriate for this website.

We are particularly reaching out to any one of these categories of victims because there is legislation pending they would want to know about: (please contact us for important information about pending legislation that will affect you)
1. A murder victim's family member or friend whose loved one's killer is serving a long term (25 years or more)or life sentence in Illinois.
2. A murder victim's family member or friend whose loved one's killer was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
3. A victim advocate that works with victims of Illinois crime that fall into one of the above categories.
You should know more about the proposals making their way before the Illinois Legislature that would retroactively change their fixed sentences without a court or an appeal, and without notifying you, the victims or the public, that such a change is being proposed.

ILLINOISVICTIMS.Org Board of Directors:

President, Terry Mayborne, Loves Park, Illinois
Vice-President/Treasurer Dora Larson, Aurora, IL
Secretary/Webmaster Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, Northfield, IL
Directors Jeanne Wrenn (Chicago), Kristina Lindsay (Chicago), Samantha Glover (Chicago), Maria Ramirez (Chicago), Terry Hoyt (St Petersburg, FL), Barbara McNally (Bartlett, IL), Barbara Stone (Rockford)

CONTACT US via email or call 847-446-7073

What We Believe

bulletWe believe in the rights of victims as enumerated in the Illinois Constitution, Federal Statutes, and International Standards, and that they should be enforced.

There are 9 core victims rights in national and international law and standards:  Right to Attend, Right to Compensation, Right to Be Heard, Right to Be Informed, Right to Protection, Right to Restitution, Right to Return of Property, Right to A Speedy Trial, Right to Enforcement

We know that Illinois' Victims Rights do not meet the national standards especially in the "enforcement" component of national victims rights standards and we support amending the State Constitution to repair this.
 
bulletWe believe that victims services should not be tied to the status of the offender, as is currently the case in Illinois, but to the needs of the victims.
 
bulletWe believe that Victims should be fully notified of, and have input in, all matters regarding their case, unless they choose not to, in enough advance time for them to prepare appropriate input. This should include every phase of the criminal justice process, from the original crime to the absolute end of the case, and even after, if new matters affecting it arise.
 
bulletWe believe that there are inadequate measures in place to notify victims of their rights and protect those rights at an institutional level.  Greater availability and notification of these rights should be the norm.  Victims should be far more empowered than they are.
 
bulletWe believe that a thorough Restorative Justice process which focuses on healing the victims, should be supported to take place whenever possible and reasonable between victims and offenders. Where both victims and offenders are willing and able, Restorative Justice has been demonstrated to be very helpful to victims and in preventing other crimes. This should especially be the case when offenders are seeking early release or re-entering society from serving prison terms. Restorative Justice has proven to be most effective when used in other nations. Restorative Justice does not and should not
replace the criminal justice system which works independently of it, but does provide personal help for both victim and offender.
 
bulletWe believe that people can change and we hope that in prison, after victimizing people, offenders will work to rehabilitate. But we know that prisons are not places that emphasize rehabilitation, nor does our society focus as it should.  Rehabilitation as a process for offenders cannot truly take place without full accountability to the victims of their crimes. Prison programming should be much improved to support serious emphasis on
Rehabilitation. Offenders who want to demonstrate that they have rehabilitated should be given opportunities even within the prison to work to make restitution to their victims. They should be moved, as they improve, to prisons of lesser security with more programs that allow them to help others, and they should be allowed to apologize to their victims, only if the victims wish to receive that apology.
 
bulletWe believe that punishment and rehabilitation are separate issues. We support both ends in the criminal justice system. Prison sentences are a reflection of societal outrage over behaviors not tolerated. Punishment by serving prison terms often is an appropriate reaction to very serious wrong-doing. We believe society has a right to develop policies aimed at behavior management and public safety. When Due Process rights have been fully observed,
bulletin general we believe violent offenders should work to serve with grace and dignity their duly given and earned full prison terms, while working
to make restitution to society and to their victims. And the Prison System should support those processes.
 
bulletWe believe that the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which has significant power over the 48,000 prisoners serving in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and almost no mechanisms for accountability,  should be balanced to represent the interests of victims, public safety, law enforcement, and inmates. We believe that there should be at least one victim serving on the PRB representing the vital interests of victims, as well as prosecutors, law enforcement, and psychiatrists. The PRB has often been criticized for having patronage appointees. We urge the Governor and Senate to work in
cooperation with victims, attorneys, prosecutors, courts, law enforcement, and the psychiatric and educational communities to create an exemplary
Prisoner Review Board, much better than the one Illinois has had up to now.
 
bulletWe believe more understanding, resources, and improved mechanisms for dealing with victims and accountability to victims need to be created in all levels and functions of government in the State of Illinois that deal with victims of crime. Victims services are among the most underfunded going concerns in the state of Illinois, and actually contributes to MORE costs incurred by advancing the cycle of crime and need.
 
bulletWe believe that in order for the Constitution to work with its system of checks and balances, we need a clemency system in Illinois that works to address those rare cases of error in the Judicial system. We believe that of the hundreds of petitions sent to the Prisoner Review Board every year only a very few are genuinely worthy of consideration. We believe that prisoners should voluntarily limit themselves to clemency appeals that are truly legitimate legally, morally, and ethically in order to not unduly tax or clog the system that is designed ultimately for their benefit.  We believe that the clemency system should be de-politicized for Governors in general and that the Governor should act promptly and appropriately to use his/her powers of executive clemency to correct errors in the criminal justice system when they occur. And we believe that for the most part, people who commit crimes should serve the sentences they have been given where due process and justice have been served correctly by the system.
 
bulletWe know that the Legislature, with a fully engaged and informed public, is where the appropriate sentence for all categories of crime should be determined. We know that a Court of Law, where due process of law is protected, is the appropriate place for individual sentence for a given criminal to be determined. We do not believe that other entities with no public accountability or due process rights should be able to determine sentences for offenders.
 
bulletWe believe that in prisoner's cases where there are questions of innocence or over-sentencing, we should have a legal system that can reliably address those issues through judicial appeals and a working clemency process. Only then can Due Process be protected. Bringing back parole and indeterminate sentencing to Illinois is not the way to correct those problems - it is anti-victim, wildly discriminatory, and a massive and unwieldy bureaucracy. Illinois did away with indeterminate sentencing in the late 70's, partially because it is so hard on victims, and a lot due to the inherent inequities of the system, such as rampant racism.
 
bulletWe believe that law enforcement, prosecutors, court officials, and everyone who works in the criminal justice system have some of the most difficult and thankless jobs in the world.  Inevitably, human institutions will be flawed, but we should all work together to achieve the best possible legal system for building and protecting our communities.
 
bulletWe believe that the focus in Illinois and everywhere should be on PREVENTION of crime and violence, and that our resources should reflect that. It is "penny wise and pound foolish" to spend millions on prisons and punishment, when much less financial investment on prevention measures will not only save money but lives - of victims as well as offenders.