The day after his daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, announced the formation of a statewide felony sex crime task force, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced Wednesday he will push for a $6 million increase in funding to state and local crime labs that handle rape cases.
Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, said the increased funding is need to help process evidence in sexual assault cases and other violent crimes.
“Reports that violent sexual predators may have walked free after crucial evidence could not be processed is a call to action,” he said. “Even in a difficult budget year, providing law enforcement officials with the resources they need to keep our communities safe is a priority.”
The four-member task force is headed by Lisa Madigan, state’s attorneys Brendan Kelly of St. Clair County and Anita Alvarez of Cook County, and Polly Poskin, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. It is supported by a number of police organizations, including the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois Sheriffs Association.
“Additional funding is one element of what the task force is aiming to accomplish,” said Kelly, who has cited investigative reporting by the Belleville News-Democrat in a 32-county area of Southern Illinois as showing that thousands of complaints to police from children, teenagers and women did not result in prosecutions during 2005-2013.
In St. Clair County, the BND’s recent four-day investigative series “Violation of Trust” reported that 82 percent of felony sex crimes reported to police did not lead to a courtroom during this same nine-year period. The prosecution rate was significantly higher in 2012-2013. Kelly took office in 2010.
Across the 32-county region, 70 percent of reported felony sex crimes did not result in criminal charges.
In a written statement, Michael Madigan said he has introduced House Bill 4198 “in the hopes that the General Assembly and the governor could work to find $6 million in additional funding,” to help with the scientific examination of evidence such as DNA samples collected in rape cases. In recent years, although Lisa Madigan’s office pushed to complete testing of thousands of untested DNA collection kits in rape cases, large numbers of cases were stalled and eventually abandoned because of years of testing delay.
Poskin said, “Those who have lived through the rape or murder of a loved one carry deeply painful memories with them, and knowing that the criminal who has caused them such pain is still walking the streets reopens those wounds every day.”
She added, “We can’t change what happened to them, but we can help get them justice and work to ensure that others don’t face the same nightmares. Speaker Madigan’s bill is an important step in that direction.”