Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, surrounded by members of the Illinois State Association of Letter Carriers, looked on today as Governor Pat Quinn signed into law  measure she sponsored allowing judges to increase criminal penalties for those who assault or rob letter carriers.

“A recent rash of attacks on letter carriers in the Chicago area, including in my district, inspired this legislation, which received unanimous support in both chambers of the legislature,” Sen. Collins said. “We depend on postal workers to deliver our mail in all types of weather and under all kinds of adverse conditions, and we owe them our best efforts to ensure they are not targets of crime as they go about their essential work in our neighborhoods.”

Kenny Lewis, an Iraq War veteran employed by the Postal Service for the last 20 years, was delivering mail on West 80th Street in Gresham when he was brutally attacked by two men on May 1. They knocked him unconscious and stole his mail bag. He suffered loss of vision and severe headaches after the incident. In April 2011, a postal worker was robbed at gunpoint while delivering mail on the South Side. In December 2010, six attacks on Southeast Side letter carriers were reported within two days; one attacker pulled a knife on his victim.

 

“As public servants whose cargo often contains valuable documents and sensitive information, letter carriers are in need of extra protection,” Sen. Collins said. “In the same way lawbreakers know they run a higher risk of serious jail time if they shoot a police officer, would-be criminals should know they could face additional penalties if they assault a letter carrier.”

“We’re very pleased with the bill,” said Mack Julion, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 11 – Chicago. “I’m hopeful this will deter a lot of the violence and assaults that letter carriers have been experiencing out on the streets. I’m extremely grateful to Sen. Collins for introducing this legislation.”

The new law allows judges to consider the fact that the crime victim was a letter carrier as an “aggravating factor” – a reason to impose a more severe sentence on an individual convicted of committing assault, battery, robbery or armed robbery on a postal worker who was on a delivery route at the time of the attack. Assaulting or intimidating a postal worker performing his or her professional duties is already a federal offense, but federal cases are often slow to work their way through the system, and convictions for crimes against postal workers are rare.

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