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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century - Crime Victim's Compensation

NCJ Number
Date Published
20 pages
As one of the pillars of victim assistance, crime victim compensation serves as the primary means of financial aid in the aftermath of victimization.
Victim compensation programs provide financial assistance to victims of nearly every type of violent crime. The programs pay for expenses such as medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, funerals, and loss of support. With a few exceptions, however, the programs do not cover lost, stolen, or damaged property. Most programs cover a basic core of offenses, although eligibility requirements and specific benefits vary by State. In 1996, State programs paid approximately $240 million to more than 110,000 victims nationwide. State programs have established limits to the maximum benefits available to victims that typically range from $10,000 to $25,000. State programs are designed to achieve four broad goals: (1) effective outreach, training, and communication; (2) expeditious and accurate claims processing; (3) good decision-making; and (4) sound financial planning. Progress made relative to victim compensation issues since the 1982 President's Task Force on Victims of Crime and the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) is discussed. VOCA program requirements, recent trends in victim compensation, and eligibility requirements are examined. Attention is also paid to compensation for Federal crime victims, compensation for victims of crimes occurring in other countries, public awareness of victim compensation, the use of technology to enhance claims processing, and funding of victim compensation programs. Recommendations to make victim compensation programs more effective are offered. 24 endnotes

Date Published: January 1, 1998