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Friday, June 21, 2024

Focus on Safety – Support for survivors


Nobody plans on being a victim of a violent crime. If you ever find yourself in that traumatic experience; however, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Illinois has laws in place to protect you and your rights. During the month of April, we are focusing our “A Safer Naper” campaign efforts on highlighting the rights of victims of violent crime.

In 1984 and revised in 1992, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, which affords victims and witnesses the right to be treated with respect, fairness and dignity. Before this act was passed, victims were often revictimized by the criminal justice system by being left in the dark about their case status, court proceedings and offender status. Thanks to this act, however, victims’ rights to be notified have been clarified. If you are a victim of a violent crime, you have the right to be notified of every one of the offender’s court dates, times and locations and the right to be present for all court proceedings. Victims also have the right to be given notice of the release of the defendant from custody.

This act has also expounded victims’ rights to participate in prosecution. Victims of a crime can often feel powerless and without a voice in the criminal justice system. The Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act gives victims the right bring an advocate or support person to all court proceedings, subject to the Rules of Evidence, and also to provide a written or oral Victim Impact Statement at the sentencing hearing. This statement is the victim’s opportunity to tell the courts how the crime has impacted them physically, emotionally and financially.

Victims may also be eligible to receive compensation or financial assistance under the Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Act for expenses directly related to the crime.

These are just some of the general rights afforded to victims. The full Rights of Crime Victims and Witness Act can be viewed on the City of Naperville’s website – www.naperville.il.us/asafernaper.

It’s important to be aware that if you are a victim of a crime, you are not alone. Resources are available at the state, county and local level, and to help victims navigate the court system and recovery process, the Naperville Police Department added a victim advocate to our department in 2018. You can read more about that position on the department’s website, as well.

Finally, the Naperville Police Department is hosting its third annual victim services information fair from 9AM to Noon on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, to connect victims of crime to local, state and federal resources and services. Designed to raise awareness about crime victims’ rights and available services, the free information fair will be open to the public at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave. in Naperville.

Until next month … Stay Aware and Stay Safe.

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Julie Smith
Julie Smith
Julie Smith is Crime Prevention Specialist at the Naperville Police Department. Contact her at SmithJu@naperville.il.us or (630) 305-5450.