Waiting Room Offers Comfort to Victims of Crime in Kane County
A new type of victim/witness waiting room has opened at the Kane County Judicial Center. The room, inside the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, used to be a stark and uninviting space with an old TV and VHS tapes. Today, it's transformed with freshly painted calming blue walls, dimmed lights, a sound bar, comfy furniture with pillows and blankets, a fuzzy rug, books, and a variety of toys for children to play with.
The renovated waiting room is a sensory-sensitive area, intended to be a quiet, safe and comfortable environment where individuals who have suffered trauma can relax and wait as they prepare to appear as a witness in a court proceeding.
Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser says creating a trauma-informed space for certain witnesses was a priority for her office.
“There needed to be an area for someone to stay, specifically designed to help reduce their anxiety knowing they were about to relive one of the worst days of their lives," said State's Attorney Mosser.
Mosser says the calming aspects of the waiting room, using a combination lights, colors, sounds and other sensory equipment, has proven to be beneficial not only to the victims but also her prosecutors and advocates.
“If a person feels comfortable and supported, their ability to participate in the judicial process improves," according to Mosser.
Trauma-informed practices in the medical field, education and judicial systems have been gaining in popularity as people recognize the potentially long-lasting negative impact of trauma on a person's physical and mental health and ways to reduce those impacts.
As for the cost of renovations, Mosser says most of the content in the waiting room was donated.