An agency that doles out federal grant money has denied Kane County's appeal for funding for three advocates in the county's now-defunct Victim's Rights Unit.
State's Attorney Joe McMahon has asked Gov. Bruce Rauner for help and opined the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority should award grants first to organizations that have court mandated duties required by law, such as the Crime Victims Bill of Rights.
"Taxpayer dollars ought to go to offices and agencies with legally mandated responsibilities before they go to nongovernmental organizations without any mandated responsibilities," McMahon said this week during his monthly media meeting.
McMahon said the county has received the grant for more than 20 years, and advocates help provide not only services for violent crime victims required by state law, but also are there for victims and their families in court for support and to explain judicial proceedings.
Kane applied for a $104,368 grant from funds through the Victims of Crimes Act, and if it had received it, the county would kick in $59,982 for a total of $164,350.
McMahon now wants Rauner to tell Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Director John Maki to award grants based on need and mandated responsibilities over groups that don't have functions required by state law.
"The irony of the ICJIA denying our request for funding, yet awarding more than four times my request to an organization that has zero mandated functions and has no role in the criminal justice system is not lost on me," read part of McMahon's letter to Rauner.
Maki said Kane's application scored poorly on a merit-based system that is designed to prevent political interference.
"Of the 17 applicants who applied for funding, 16 adequately addressed the core requirements laid out in the notice of funding opportunity, and because there was sufficient federal funding available, federal designations were made to all 16. Unfortunately, the Kane County state's attorney's office's application fell short of this threshold," Maki wrote in an email. "It would be inappropriate for ICJIA to comment publicly on the specific weaknesses of an individual application."