VanPelt-FilmTaxSenator Patricia Van Pelt’s plan to help victims and witnesses of gang crime passed through the Senate on Thursday.

The legislation, House Bill 1139, establishes the Gang Crime Witness Protection Program Fund, which will assist victims and witnesses who are actively aiding in the prosecution of gang members. Funds may be used to help pay temporary living costs, moving expenses, rent and other expenses of relocation. 

“This legislation will empower people who might be afraid to testify against gang members,” said Van Pelt. “This fund will encourage witnesses to come forward and stop the gang crime that is rampant in our community.”

 

Gang activity is a major cause of crime in Chicago and specifically in Van Pelt’s 5th District. Gang activity in Chicago rose by 25 percent from 2009 to 2012. In 2012, there were 506 murders; this total is up from 435 in 2011. Gang members were responsible for 61 percent of all homicides in 2011.

“In these difficult prosecutions, we need to make sure witnesses are willing to tell the authorities everything they know about criminal activity,” Van Pelt explained. “This fund will provide support for people who help law enforcement solve these challenging problems.”

The legislation now goes to the governor for approval.

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