KANKAKEE — Kankakee County prosecutors handle felony domestic violence cases as quickly as possible to help ensure the safety of victims, the lead prosecutor said recently.
“As a community, we have an obligation to stand up to be the voice for victims. We can empower them to be survivors. We now make sure every [felony] domestic violence case that comes into our office is reviewed in 24 hours,” State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said.
This quickened review shortens the time it takes to get the case to the grand jury, Rowe said.
An exception to the 24-hour rule is when a domestic violence case comes in for review and requires more investigation, Rowe said.
“Once we get the person in court, then we can get an order of protection,” he said.
Domestic violence, he said, is the second most filed felony offense in the county.
“Felony domestic cases get the same priority as murder,” Rowe said.
Because the grand jury meets every other week, 13 days should be the longest it takes for a felony domestic violence matter to get a hearing, he said.
“The reason this became an issue is that the caseload is heavier. More felony cases are going to the grand jury,” Rowe said. “We needed to prioritize.”
As for child molestation, Rowe said his office would not plea bargain for probation.
“We send their a — to prison,” he said.
“Some of those offenses may be eligible for probation, but if they’re going to get probation, they’re not going to get it from the state’s attorney’s office. All of our offers for child molestation cases include prison and when we convict them at trial, we seek prison.”
Rowe, who took office in December 2016, said the plea bargaining policy for child molesters was a big reason he ran for state’s attorney.
“In the past, there were plea bargains in cases for child molesters that involved probation, no prison. The defendant would plead guilty and the state agreed to probation,” he said.