ROCKFORD, IL –To help combat gang violence, state Rep. Chuck Jefferson, D-Rockford, supported two new measures which became law last week.
“Criminal gangs should not be tolerated in our neighborhoods or in our schools,” Jefferson said. “In addition to supporting local efforts to combat gangs, I have also strongly supported legislation giving schools more tools to protect themselves and increased resources for victims and witnesses who help with investigations.”
Supported by Jefferson, House Bill 2768 requires public school principals to contact law enforcement when safety is threatened by the illegal use or possession of weapons or by illegal gang activity. Currently, principals can only take this course of action if school safety is threatened by drugs or alcohol. The new law also requires courts and law enforcement to report to principals when a student has been held for illegal gang activity. This measure is aimed at increasing transparency and encouraging schools and law enforcement to work together on solutions.
House Bill 1139 reinstates the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act, which provides assistance to victims and witnesses who are relocated for their own protection because they are cooperating with the prosecution of gang members. It establishes a state fund, and allows for grants to also be used to cover 75% of the financial assistance associated with relocations. Currently, counties pay all relocation expenses for witnesses and victims who are assisting their State’s Attorneys.
“Gangs use intimidation and violence to get their way, often threatening and scaring their victims, and witnesses of their crimes, into hiding and keeping silent,” Jefferson explained. “To encourage participation with law enforcement, and to help keep them safe, reestablishing the Gang Crime Witness Protection Act is essential in the fight to take criminal gang organizations down.”
For more information, please contact Jefferson’s full-time constituent service office at (815) 987-7433.