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Witness Information Service-Peoria, Illinois

NCJ Number
C H Blew; R H Rosenblum
Date Published
87 pages
The development of the Witness Information Service (WIS) of Peoria, ILL., is detailed; staff organization and responsibilities are examined; and the critical factors of funding and costs are discussed.
Initially established to notify and assist witnesses in misdemeanor cases, WIS has since expanded its services to include witnesses in felony cases. With a paid staff of only three people, WIS relies heavily upon a small corps of dedicated volunteers. The 5 to 10 volunteers usually affiliated with the program perform a variety of tasks: making phone calls to witnesses about court dates, serving as witness aides in the courthouse, assisting victims with compensation claims, and performing clerical duties in the WIS office. Volunteers range in age from high school students to retirees; all new volunteers receive a 1-day training session on WIS operations. Operating on an annual budget of less than $35,000, WIS has significantly improved the treatment of witnesses and victims. It has helped streamline the restitution process, improved access to compensation for eligible victims, and improved the flow of information between witnesses and the criminal justice system. Notification procedures and the implementation of policies within the State's Attorneys Office to improve the management of witnesses are discussed. The article describes WIS services to keep victims informed about their recovered property and the complaint filing process and presents guidelines for those interested in developing similar projects. Charts and data tables are provided. Appendixes contain WIS brochures.