crime victims

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois voters passed a constitutional amendment last year to ensure crime victims' rights. Now lawmakers are working to make the criminal code match up.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins fights for victims' rights because her sister, brother-in-law and their child were murdered. She was denied the right to provide a victim impact statement. Even though Illinois law allowed impact statements at the time, it didn't allow victims any recourse if they were denied.

Photograph by Alex Wroblewski

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri has brought to national attention the obstacles that many young black males face - including racial profiling and a world where media portrayals of their peers are often less-than-flattering. Maureen McKinney took a look at the topic in Illinois. She joined Rachel Otwell for this interview: 

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois voters on Tuesday won't just have the chance to decide on who'll be their next governor or state representative. They'll be asked if Illinois should change its constitution. And to weigh in on a trio of non-binding questions legislators could use to guide decisions down the line.

It's one thing to pass a law. Politicians do that all the time; Illinois passed 500 last year alone.

But constitutional amendments are different. They're relatively rare, and harder to get through (and once changes are made, they're difficult to undo).

Lisa Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

This story first appeared as Illinois Issues' State of the State column in the October 2014 edition of the magazine.

Heaven Sutton and her mother, Ashake Banks
Cook County Sheriff's Department

It felt like summer in Chicago, but it was barely spring. In mid-March — a time of year when the highs are usually in the upper 40s — temperatures hit the 80s on eight days during one nine-day stretch. And in some parts of the city, bullets began flying.

Day after day, headlines delivered the grim news: “1 dead as shootings erupt around city”; “Chicago shootings leave 7 dead, 33 hurt”; “CHICAGO COP SHOT”; “Shooting death of girl, 6, marks lethal weekend. ‘She didn’t deserve this,’ mother says”; “49 people are shot citywide, 10 fatally.”