Kane still hopes to re-open Victims' Rights Unit


The Kane County state's attorney's office plans to apply for a grant later this year in hopes of re-establishing its Victims' Rights Unit.

The office lost out on a key grant a year ago from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, but has reallocated some of its victim advocates and received help from Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter in Aurora.

"They are not accepting new applications. They are going to extend the grants they awarded a year ago for six more months," State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "We need that grant back. It's disturbing to me that the fifth-largest county in the state does not receive victim advocacy assistance from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, but hopefully that will change in the next year."

Kane County officials had received a grant for about 20 years that helped fund salaries for three full-time advocates for victims of violent crime. The advocates would accompany victims to court, explain legal proceedings to them, pass along information required through the state's Victims Bill of Rights and help complete orders of protection.

Advocates also would help victims and their families apply for restitution through an Attorney General's Office Crime Victims' Compensation Program.

Last time around, McMahon's office sought $104,368 from the authority; the Kane County Board was responsible for a $59,982 match for a total of $164,350.

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A year ago, the authority declined to comment on why Kane's application was denied. The authority said it can't comment on upcoming grant opportunities.

In the meantime, McMahon said his office has received help from advocates in the Children's Advocacy Center, which investigates crimes against children and Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter in Aurora.

McMahon said Mutual Ground's advocate can only help with cases from the Aurora area and Elgin police have an advocate, but most of that person's work is done outside the courthouse.

"We've been able to piece together other victim advocates from both this office and the Children's Advocacy Center. The advocates from there have stepped up," he said.

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