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Victims’ Bill Of Rights May Be Added To State Constitution

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Illinois House Floor

House floor at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. (AP File Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — A Victims’ Bill of Rights could be added to the Illinois State Constitution, if a proposed amendment makes it onto the November ballot.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, the state House has approved the measure, and sent it to the Senate.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

The sponsor, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), says, “The victim’s family would be able to go into a courtroom and ask a judge to enforce their rights,” of their own motion, without the state’s attorney getting involved.

“This amendment expands and clarifies the rights of crime victims to provide them with greater access to post-trial proceedings, greater knowledge of proceedings and events that may affect their safety or their rights, timely action on their requests, and the ability to appeal decisions that affect the exercise of their personal rights,” Lang explained.

For example, the idea of an amendment would allow for better enforcement of the notification of victims when a criminal is released.

Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) is a supporter of the amendment, and he says he has found a personal story.

“I want to thank one individual who’s been my teacher on this subject – it’s a constituent of mine who’s in the gallery, Jennifer Bishop Jenkins,” Biss said. “She is able to turn heart-wrenching personal tragedy into her own life into a life’s mission, creating a set of rights and opportunities for relatives of victims, and I simply want to thank her for her advocacy, and I well know that we would not be taking this vote today if it were not for that advocacy.”

Jenkins is the founder of the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers, after her sister, Nancy Bishop Langert, was shot and killed by a 16-year-old boy in 1990, along with her husband, Richard, and their unborn child. But Jenkins also fought against a politician who had urged lowering the death penalty eligibility age to 16 to “honor” her sister, according to the group Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29 passed the House 116-2.

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