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SAFE-T Act ushers in requirements regarding victims’ rights; Winnebago County State’s Attorney already adapting to the changes

Winnebage County Courthouse

Illinois becomes the first in the nation today to end cash bail. There have been questions about how the new law will affect crime victims.

In Winnebago County, State’s Attorney J. Hanley says his office has already been gearing up for some of the new mandates indicated in the law regarding victims’ rights.

His office is now required to contact victims of violent crimes before a defendant’s initial appearance.

“It's about building trust,” Hanley told reporters during a media availability held right before the new policy took effect. “While it's an extra responsibility of our office, we welcome it.”

He said for the last six months, they’ve prioritized staffing to reach out to victims earlier.

“We have someone who comes in every morning [and] looks at the arrest sheets and makes attempts to call the victims first thing in the morning.”

Prior to this, his office was averaging about a week to a month before they made contact.

Hanley expects there will be some pivots his office will need to make as the full effects of the new measure play out.

A Chicago native, Maria earned a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield . Maria is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America. RFA is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. It is an initiative of The GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit journalism organization. Un residente nativo de Chicago, Maria se graduó de University of Illinois Springfield con una licenciatura superior en periodismo de gobierno.
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