JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Sheriff Paul Kaupas announce a number of initiatives to commemorate the 26th Annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which begins Sunday, April 23.
This year’s theme – “Victims’ Rights: Strength in Unity” – pays tribute to crime victims and survivors who have joined together in mutual support and advocacy to promote victims’ rights and services.
The theme also recognizes the ongoing efforts of countless victim service providers, criminal justice professionals and volunteers who dedicate their lives to helping crime victims.
One of Glasgow’s key initiatives is the creation of the Will County State’s Attorney’s Victim Independence Program to assist domestic violence victims. The state’s attorney has created a specialized team of prosecutors, law enforcement officers, social workers, civil attorneys and victim advocacy professionals whose goal is to empower and protect women and their families.
The V.I.P. team provides the support these women need to help them follow through with the prosecution of domestic abusers. This support may include counseling, the identification of temporary housing and other social services.
“Too often victims of domestic abuse are intimidated or manipulated by their abusers into giving up on the case,” Glasgow said. “The V.I.P. team’s mission is to create a comprehensive support network that will assist us in holding abusers accountable for their actions while enabling them to break the vicious cycle of abuse.”
Other initiatives through the state’s attorney’s office include:
- The Lighthouse Project: This pilot program – a partnership between the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and Joliet Junior College – provides training, education and job placement services for the victims of domestic abuse. Once again, the goal is to help abuse victims establish their independence. The state’s attorney’s office makes all referrals into the program, which is still being developed.
- The Doug Petan Crime Victim Assistance Fund: The state’s attorney’s office is working to reestablish a fund created a decade ago following the tragic death of Doug Petan during an armed robbery at Jiffy Lube in Crest Hill in 1995. Employers of crime victims will be asked to make tax-deductible contributions to the fund, which can be used to provide limited financial assistance to victims and their families while a case winds its way through the courts. The fund originally was created with a $5,000 contribution from Jiffy Lube to honor Doug Petan’s memory.
During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Sheriff Kaupas is highlighting his department’s TRIAD Program, which he established to provide crime prevention and educational services for senior citizens. TRIAD involves a three-way commitment by the sheriff, Will County’s police chiefs and leaders in the senior community to protect elderly citizens.
Kaupas also hired a social worker for the Sheriff’s Department shortly after he took office in 2002. Since that time, Sheriff Department Social Worker Bonnie McPhillips has served more than 1,300 crime victims, providing support through referral information, crisis intervention and counseling.
Such initiatives are important in a growing county, said Kelly Sullivan, program director for the State’s Attorney’s Victim and Witness Services Program since 1988. Last year alone, the state’s attorney’s office charged 2,661 felonies and 4,345 misdemeanors.
“Often victim’s voices are silent and their rights are overlooked,” Sullivan said “This is a week when we acknowledge and recognize that victims exist, have voices, and have rights.”
For information on sheriff department’s TRIAD Program, call (815) 727 – 8568. Or visit on the Web at www.willcosheriff.org.
For information on the Will County State’s Attorney’s Victim Independence Program, call 815-727-8742. Or visit on the Web at www.willcountysao.com.