Why I Support Eric Rinehart for Lake County State’s Attorney

by Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins

Thirty years ago my sister, her husband, and their unborn child were murdered in Winnetka, Illinois. That watershed event changed everything about my life, propelling me into a lifetime of advocacy against violence, for criminal justice reform, and for victims’ rights.

I have been literally everywhere that becoming an expert on the criminal justice system would require—prisons and jails, courtrooms and judges’ chambers, prosecutors’ offices and victim advocates’ offices, public defender, clerk, private attorneys, and criminal justice reform advocate meetings. I have worked with the best and the worst that the criminal justice system has to offer, and I have worked effectively within the political system on all of these matters.

And I have accomplished important reforms for Illinois residents, most notably with the passage of Marsy’s Law in 2014, putting forever into the Illinois Constitution enforceable rights for crime victims in criminal justice proceedings in violent crime cases. I care deeply, as a private citizen, about making sure that the State’s Attorneys each county in Illinois elects are people committed to ending violence, protecting public safety, and victims’ rights, and have the skills to do their jobs protecting rights and enforcing the law.

I am, therefore, thrilled to enthusiastically endorse Eric Rinehart for Lake County State’s Attorney. His planned reforms for this important office are well thought-out and promise a much improved quality of life for Lake County residents. After practicing criminal law in Lake County for 17 years, he has the experience, the skills, and the expertise to deliver the strongest functioning Lake County State’s Attorney’s office in decades.

While there are many reasons to vote for him, here is just one story that exemplifies why electing Eric is so important:

A friend of mine was a victim of domestic violence in Lake County – a truly terrifying and life-changing experience for her. As a DV survivor myself, I stood by her side supportively, even attending phone meetings with Assistant State’s Attorneys and victim advocates under the current Lake County State’s Attorney’s office. The current State’s Attorney was handed a virtually airtight case against a truly guilty offender with an articulate and brave victim able to testify against her abuser. And he bungled it. The abuser got off. Further, my friend’s victims’ rights under Marsy’s Law were not enforced by the office charged to protect her. I came to understand at that point the real need to change the leadership in the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.

I know that other cases like my friend’s are exactly what motivated Eric to run for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office. When I read Eric Rinehart’s campaign platform, it was as if I had written it myself. Ending domestic violence in Lake County will be a top priority in his administration, to protect victims of domestic abuse and other violent crimes by moving resources from the prosecution of nonviolent crimes and civil forfeiture litigation to the prosecution of violent offenses, to establish a Victims’ Advisory Panel, and to comply fully with Marsy’s Law.

Please join me in telling everyone you know in Lake County to spread the word – Lake County NEEDS Eric Rinehart.

 

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