More Than 200 Crime Survivors from Across the State Call for Reforms and Hold a Vigil in Memory of Loved Ones

Survivors and Elected Officials Advocate for Investments in Victim Services and More Trauma Recovery Centers to Help End Cycles of Crime

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Hundreds of crime survivors and families of murdered Illinoisians crowded the state capitol today to urge lawmakers to expand support for crime victims and make communities safer. Crime survivors were joined by elected officials at Survivors Speak Illinois – an annual event hosted by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ) – with families holding photos of murdered loved ones and advocating for proven public safety reforms.

Illinois members of CSSJ have helped establish five Trauma Recovery Centers (TRC) throughout the state, bringing comprehensive services and critical support to crime victims in underserved communities. They are now calling for more TRCs and greater investments for frontline victim service providers to tackle the root causes of crime and reach underserved communities.

“Far too many Illinois crime survivors lack the support they need to heal and recover after being faced with violence,” said Bertha Purnell, crime survivor and member of Illinois Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, who lost her son to gun violence. “When my son was killed, I wish I had access to the critical services that so many survivors need to get their lives back on track. Communities have been left behind, and our lawmakers must prioritize victims’ needs now more than ever.”

In an emotional press conference and vigil, Bertha Purnell and other survivors with CSSJ called for improved job and housing protections for crime victims, expanded victims’ services, and expanding Trauma Recovery Centers across the state. Crime victims are also calling for changes that help ensure funding reaches frontline community-based victims service providers.

During their visit to Springfield, crime survivors also honored three unwavering champions of crime victims in the Illinois Legislature: Representative Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago), and Senators Robert Peters (D-Chicago) and Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago).

“Right now, Illinois crime survivors are especially vulnerable,” said Aswad Thomas, gun violence survivor and national director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “To continue improving public safety, we must strengthen local communities through healing and trauma recovery. We must build on previous progress, and lawmakers have an opportunity to do that by making sure that Illinoisians have secure housing, mental health resources, and victims’ services. These approaches must be incorporated in any public safety strategy if we are to truly make our state safe.”

Crime survivors are calling for common-sense policies that make Illinois communities safer for all, including bipartisan bills to:

  • Funding frontline community-based organizations victim service providers
  • Funding to expand Trauma Recovery Centers across the state
  • Expanding housing and employment protections for vulnerable Illinois survivors


Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is a national network of crime survivors, including more than 11,000 members across Illinois, joining together to create healing communities and shape public safety policy. With over 90,000 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 violence.  The organization is a flagship project of Alliance for Safety and Justice.

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