Victim Impact Panels, which have been a long staple of DUI sentencing in Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties, are now coming to Kankakee County.
For those not familiar, the concept of a Victim Impact Panel is that DUI (or other serious traffic) offenders are required to attend a presentation where victims of drunk driving accidents talk about their stories. The speakers might be someone seriously injured by a drunk driver, someone who lost a family member or significant or the drunk driver, who talks about the damage he or she has done and the penalties he or she received.
From the Kankakee Daily Journal (article by Allison Shapiro):
“We think that when you look at DUI offenders, we want to make sure they clearly realize the impact that their crime has, not only on our community as a whole and their own families, but on victims of DUI offenses,” said Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe. “We hope that this additional perspective makes people think twice before driving drunk or recklessly.”
Staff from the MADD Illinois office, as well as volunteers, told participants the stories of how their lives had been changed by someone’s reckless behavior. One of the speakers was Zach Jones, a Limestone native who became an activist after he was severely injured by a drunk driver in 2012.
“It’s great to be able to bring something back to the community I’m from. It’s something that hopefully will help keep people safe in the future, keep from happening to other people what happened to me,” said Jones, now the program coordinator at MADD Illinois. “It’s a great thing, it’s something positive for the county to use to try to move forward and keep this from happening.”