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June 10, 2014

Intriguing new report on "Compensating Victims of Crime"

Victim Compensation infographic_for rotator2_0The folks at Justice Fellowship have just released an interesting new report titled simply "Compensating Victims of Crime" as part of its advocacy for restorative justice programming. This report's Executive Summary includes these passages: 

Restorative Justice recognizes that crime harms people. Though most people affected by crime are never able to fully reclaim what was taken, victim compensation funds are a tool used within our criminal justice system to advance the much needed value of assisting victims and survivors of crime. Unfortunately, very little of the billions of dollars placed within these funds goes directly to victims and survivors of crime.  This report is an extensive overview of victim compensation funds and highlights some concerns and provides some suggestions for reform.

Victim compensation funds are funded by criminal fines and taxpayer dollars and offer monetary assistance to victims and survivors of violent crime.  Though similar in concept to restitution, they differ in eligibility requirements, funding sources, and distribution. Currently, victim compensation funds only provide monetary assistance to a small number of victims and survivors of violent crime. Of the approximately 7 million victims of violent crime per year, only 200,000 receive assistance from a compensation fund. Even more disturbing is the ratio of money spent on compensation compared to that which is spent on corrections. In 2012, federal, state, and local governments spent approximately $85 billion on corrections. In the same year, victim compensation funds paid out approximately $500 million dollars—less than 1% of what was spent on corrections.

This disparity cannot be blamed on a lack of funds.  The Crime Victims Fund — a hybrid system funded jointly by federal and state dollars, but administered at the state level —currently retains a balance of almost $11 billion, while some states have additional balances that approach $10 million. Congress, however, has capped the total annual Crime Victims Fund spending at $745 million dollars despite the large pool of victims who are eligible to receive funds.  Further, the average maximum amount that victims and survivors can receive from a victim compensation fund is $26,000.

Because victim compensation funds are administered on the state level, states differ in the eligibility requirements. All states compensate for medical expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages, funeral costs, and travel.  Many states compensate for crime scene cleanup, attorney fees, rehabilitation, replacement services, and relocation services. Few states compensate for things like pain and suffering, property loss, stolen cash, transportation, return of an abducted child, guide dog expenses, domestic services, home healthcare, and forensic exams in sexual assaults.

Unfortunately, many victims do not receive any compensation. This often occurs simply due to a lack of knowledge about the compensation fund. However, there are numerous other reasons, including the fact that there are fairly stringent requirements that one must satisfy to receive funds.  Half of all states require victims or survivors to report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours.  12 states require a police report to be filed within 5 to 10 days. A majority of the states require victims and survivors to file a compensation claim within one to two years, and several states restrict compensation to victims who have a prior felony conviction in the last 10 years. While these requirements may not seem stringent at first glance, consider that many crimes are not ever reported for fear of retribution, continued victimization, or the stigma that comes with being a victim. Forty-two percent of victims do not report serious violent crimes to law enforcement officials.  As a result, they are denied access to compensation funds....

The system currently in place can be vastly improved. The federal cap on the dispensing of funds should be raised to $1 billion.  Awareness of these funds must be increased through additional community infrastructure and advocacy.  Overly restrictive requirements must be relaxed so that people have a chance to qualify for compensation once they know it is available. Finally, stringent oversight and transparency of state funds for victims is necessary to ensure that the money is being used properly. Increasing awareness, access, and availability of compensation funds will prioritize victims and survivors in the criminal justice system and advance the values of restorative justice.

The full text of Compensating Victims of Crime is available here.

June 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Permalink


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"...very little of the billions of dollars placed within these funds goes directly to victims and survivors of crime..."
agree,most of it goes to support the high salaries to people running these so called victim support organizations besides everyone knows that nowadays everyone is a victim that should be entitled to monetary compansation no matter how inconsequental the real harm done. A little tort reform would also be helpful.

Posted by: ted | Jun 10, 2014 1:54:09 PM

The report is silly and trivial. It does not come close to listing the real cost of crime.

1) $trillions in real estate values transferred from inner city to suburb. Without crime downtown housing would be the most valuable.

2) 5 million violent crimes with injuries, the cost of their treatment, their long term effect on productivity, the deterrence of economic activity.

3) Unnecessary cost of security measures, and prevention of activity by the fear of crime.

4) The deterrence of economic activity by the loss of trust in others, and the cost of verifying the performance of others.

Who is responsible for 90% of crime? The government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the criminal cult enterprise that is the legal profession. It knows all the career violent offenders, likely by the age of 3, because they are committing their crimes at that age. Yet it protects them against public self help, rather than getting ridof them as soon as the public tase will allow.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that there is no duty to the individual citizen. The police's duty is to the entire city, again a fictional concept versus a real person in the physical world.

End all governmental immunities because they are bad for government and bad for the nation. Reason One and Reason Last for the existence of government is safety. They have sided with the bad guys, everyone hates the lawyers and the goernment, deservedly so, because they are now acting out of pure evil and rent seeking.

If the lawyer can be motivated to compensate crime victims in full tort liability, crime would decrease. Government would stop attacking its far more successful competitors at reducing crime, religion, the patriarchal family, schools, and especially the public itself in self help. There should be a citizen duty to carry a gun, and to try to kill all violent criminals on the spot. Fail to try, and pay a $100 fine if seen on video not trying.

There should be no crime. One should be able to drop a $20 bill on the side walk, and three weeks later it is there, or in a plastic envelope for protection from the rain.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 10, 2014 4:56:44 PM

actually SC there is a reason for this!

"The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that there is no duty to the individual citizen. The police's duty is to the entire city, again a fictional concept versus a real person in the physical world."

Legally and Constitutionally we are all allowed to carry our own damn gun and use it when someone screws with your life or property or even your neighbor's property or life if you see them in action.

No need to bother the police. Just deal with it and call the local morgue to deal with the trash.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 14, 2014 12:40:47 AM

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