Hundreds of Crime Survivors from Across Illinois Call for Reforms to Help Victims Heal, End Cycles of Crime, While Honoring Loved Ones Lost to Violence

Survivors and Elected Officials Advocate for Expanded Protections for Victims and Other Reforms to Help End Cycles of Crime

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Hundreds of crime survivors and families of murdered Illinoisians gathered at the statehouse today to urge lawmakers to expand support for crime victims and make communities safer. Crime survivors were joined by elected officials, including Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) and Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago), at Survivors Speak Illinois – organized by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) – with families holding photos of murdered loved ones and advocating for public safety reforms.

Illinois members of CSSJ are leading efforts for historic safety reforms in the state. Over the past few years, CSSJ Illinois members have advocated for laws which reduced barriers to victim compensation for survivors, prioritized rehabilitation, and established trauma recovery centers in the state. In an emotional press conference, crime survivors with CSSJ called on elected officials to pass the following legislation: 

  • HB 2493 – which expands eligibility for bereavement leave under the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) for those who have lost loved ones to violence. Victims would have 10 days of unpaid leave to grieve or make funeral arrangements. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Aaron Ortiz and Senator Robert Peters. 
  • HB 3026 – improves sentencing credits for those in prison by ensuring that awarding of credits is applied fairly and equitably. This bill ensures that people are incentivized to complete rehabilitative programming and be better prepared for success after release, and less likely to cause harm. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Senator Robert Peters. 

“We must continue prioritizing healing and redemption to improve our state’s public safety,” said Bertha Purnell, crime survivor and member of Illinois Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, who lost her son to gun violence. “When we expand support for victims of violence and prioritize rehabilitation, we are able to  break cycles of crime and reduce victimizations.”

“Communities most harmed by violence need support to heal and recover,” said Aditi Singh, Illinois state director for the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Passing public safety reforms that prioritize healing and redemption will improve safety for everyone.”

According to a national survey, the majority of crime victims and their loved ones do not have job protection if they need leave from work to prioritize their safety or deal with victim-related matters. One in six victims of violent crime and one in four people who have lost a loved one to violence lose their job or are demoted for taking time off.

“Illinois crime survivors know firsthand how crime and violence destabilizes our communities and how unaddressed trauma makes the road to recovery so difficult,” said Aswad Thomas, gun violence survivor and national director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “That’s why they’re urging elected officials to support solutions that keep people employed after experiencing violence and to help stop cycles of crime. Only then can communities heal collectively.”


Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is a national network of crime survivors, including over 19,000 members across Illinois, joining together to create healing communities and shape public safety policy. With more than 190,000 members and growing, including chapters and leaders across the country, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is building a movement to promote public safety policies that help the people and communities most harmed by crime and gun violence. For more information, visit:

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