Innovative Practices in Victim Assistance and Compensation
Laura Banks Reed, Shontel Wright  -  2013/11/20
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Are there any compensation programs that allow for reimbursement of tele/online therapy appointment costs that you are aware of in the nation. I am researching the idea to reach victims living in rural communities here in Maryland. Thank you.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 Wow! What a creative solution for victims in rural communities. This question has been raised on the National Association of Compensation Board’s listserve. The results were mixed. Some states were willing to consider making payments for therapeutic services that were made by Skype and others were more inclined to stick with the traditional in-person service delivery mode. This will vary from state to state. I am not aware of any state that has statutory authority for telephone or online therapeutic services. You should review your state’s statute to determine if there are any prohibitions, and if not, contact your state compensation director to see if this is a modality that would be acceptable.
 
 
Asked on behalf of our Victimology & Victim Services class... Is there any form of Victim Compensation for victims of cyber crime, and how is it regulated? Thank you.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 I am not aware of any states that have included cyber crime in their compensation statutes, but a case by case examination might produce some cases that are eligible. We had one instance in the District of Columbia in the prosecution of a cyber crime where the compensation program was able to provide assistance. We were able to look at the charging document and although cyber assaults are not specifically included in our statute, we were able to identify lesser-included crimes that are in the statute. This would not be applicable in all cases. Cyber crimes also pose jurisdictional issues which would need to be addressed. Depending upon the circumstances of the crime, a determination may have to be made concerning which state compensation program would apply.
 
 
Asked on behalf of our Victimology & Victim Services class... To Ms.Wright, what measures are taken to protect childern from online predators and cyber crime? Thank you.
 
1.  Shontel Wright
 The efforts of this collaboration will hopefully change the culture surrounding the use of today's technologies by our students in order for them to be safer online. Websites that have been developed by other ICAC Task Forces may be found at the following addresses: South Dakota http://www.sdcybersafe.com/Default.asp Utah http://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/internet_safety.html Hawaii http://hawaii.gov/ag/hicac San Diego http://www.sdicac.org Wisconsin http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dci/icac/ Silicon Valley http://www.svicac.org/ Sacramento Valleyhttp://www.sachitechcops.org/ New York http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/missing/i_safety/icac.htm Minnesota http://www.stpaul.gov/index.asp?NID=1815
 
2.  Shontel Wright
 Georgia’s task force: Introduction to the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) provides the entire state a Unit dedicated to the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of crimes committed against children over the Internet. Georgia ICAC is funded with both federal and state dollars. Part of the Georgia ICAC mandate is to provide Internet Safety prevention programs for children and their parents. A multi-agency collaboration between the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Public Broadcasting Agency, the Georgia Tech Research Institute, and the DeKalb Public School System.
 
 
Asked on behalf of our Victimology & Victim Services class... How do you get the word out that victim compensation and assistance exists? Thank you.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 In DC we rely heavily upon our partners who have direct and early contact with victims, such as the police department, prosecutors, DV Intake Center advocates, SANE programs, and hospitals. This has served us quite well. We also conduct bi-weekly in-service trainings in our office so that the staff is aware of vital resources in the city and the organizations, in turn become aware of the services provided by the compensation program. We regularly attend community meetings and have had interviews on radio shows. The practice of pasting posters on buses and the like did not work well for us because it encouraged inquiries from individuals that were not victims and were not eligible for the program.
 
 
Asked on behalf of our Victimology & Victim Services class... Have you had experience with "alleged" victims trying to cheat on compensation, file false claims? Have they been charged and prosecuted and what have been the sanctions? Thank you.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 Yes, unfortunately we have experienced a few individuals who have filed false claims. Generally, the documentation required to support a claim takes the wind out of the sails of many “bad actors.” In the cases where false claims have been discovered the matter has been turned over to the police and the cases were prosecuted. The sentence has ranged on average between 30 and 60 days followed by a period of probation.
 
 
What is the best practice for handling claims for victims who have cognitive impairments? Does your agency allow the use of an authorized representative or next friend?
 
1.  Laura Reed
 Yes, the authorized representative would be considered a “claimant” and is distinguished from the primary victim in the application process. For minors, the claimant would have to be an adult with authority to act on behalf of the child.
 
 
Asked on behalf of our Victimology & Victims Services class... In D.C. what key things were implemented to improve the delivery of services? Thank you.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 In DC we get by with a little help from our friends:) We have formed partnerships in the development of victim services throughout the city. The Court hosts a Domestic Violence Intake Center, there are several multi-disciplinary task forces and service centers. We work together because we have found that it works best for victims. We have forged some very effective alliances in this way.
 
 
Could you touch on assistance for homicide survivors (surviving family members)? I study cold case homicide survivors and found many of them were not eligible for victim compensation or support due to lack of programming in the state or because their loved one who was killed had a felony record. How do we aid these individuals?
 
1.  Ashley Wellman
 Thank you so much! Many cases were in Fl and some were far older than 25 years! Thank you for the feedback! I am assuming these were the two major problems these families were running into! Great webinar!
 
2.  Laura Reed
 There are only a few states that prohibit compensation based upon the past criminal record of the victim. As far as "programming" in the state, the case cannot be older than the establishment of the law, but most states laws are at least 25 years old. If the victim was committing a crime at the time of his death he may be disqualified from compensation.
 
3.  Dan Eddy
 Only a handful of states decline applications because of felony records; for the overwhelming majority of state compensation programs, criminal records aren't even looked at, and are not a factor in determining eligibility. Nearly every state will accept claims from family members in cold cases. You must be studying only a few states? (This information is from surveys NACVCB has done.)
 
 
Please share information regarding innovative practices in crime victims’ services to victims of elder abuse, specifically victims’ advocacy services? Will the OVC expand these services in the future?
 
1.  Shontel Wright
 It is my hope that, OVC will expand on these services in the future.
 
2.  Shontel Wright
 Based on Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (CJCC) subgrantees data submissions between 2000 and 2011, over 14,000 persons in Georgia were victims of elder abuse. In conjunction with Georgia Adult Protective Services, Georgia Legal Aid, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation, CJCC staff has proposed a state partnership. Within the partnership advocates will play a major role. There are many plans for this group for example, creating a “Best Practices” handbook for victims services organizations across the State to refer to if they encounter elder abuse cases.
 
 
Hi! Thanks so much for all the great work you're doing on comp. Have you found any success expanding access to comp in low-income communities and communities of color? There is a high rate of victimization in these communities and so many victims may have previous convictions, such as for drug use, that has nothing to do with their own victimization. Do you have suggestions on how to help victims such as these apply for and receive victim comp?
 
1.  Dan Eddy
 In answer to your second question, about whether changes were made to allow felons to be eligible: It's really the other way around. None of the states had these exclusions a few decades ago. Some legislatures have added the exclusions to the compensation laws over the years, based on a perception that too many criminals were qualifying for compensation intended for "innocent" crime victims. These perceptions are usually caused by sensationalized media reports. Most of the exclusions have been added in the last 5 to 10 years, and a few go back farther than that. No legislature has removed these exclusions, once created.
 
2.  Dan Eddy
 State legislatures in these states have passed provisions to deny benefits to criminals with prior felony records: Arkansas (only if victim committed a violent felony), Mississippi (if 2 felony convictions), Missouri (drugs or violence in past 10 years), NC (serious felony in past 3 years), Ohio (10 years), WA state (denial only if victim hasn't paid financial obligations relating to prior felony). Florida may deny habitual or career felons; Louisiana and RI may deny victims who commit violent felonies going back 5 years.
 
3.  Keryn
 Thanks! Do you know which states still deny compensation applications based on previous felony conviction? In the states that don't, have there been statutory changes to allow victims with a felony record to apply or have there usually been rule changes? Thanks! Great webinar!
 
4.  Laura Reed
 Only a few states deny compensation claims based on the past criminal record of the victim. All states will look to the conduct of the victim in the immediate incident. DC is unlike other states because we serve a fully urban population. In order to bring victim services to more communities, we have partnered with several government and non-profit organizations to establish a domestic violence satellite office in a hospital. This has been very effective and increased access to victim services.
 
 
What procedures, if any, are currently in place to assist foreign victims of crime in the U.S., specifically tourists who are victims of crime, and those who are on work visas.
 
1.  Laura Reed
 For purposes of the Compensation Program, (with 2 exceptions- Nevada and Texas) tourists are eligible. In most states, residency is not required. The location of the crime is the critical factor.
 
 
Is a crime occurred 2 years ago but the victim did not come in until after that 2 years, can counseling be submitted for reimbursement?
 
1.  Laura Reed
 You will have to look at the requirements of your state. Each state statute will have different requirements for the time that an application must be filed.
 
 
Would this be an accurate statement: Counseling for a victim can go on for any amount of time but due to the cap only that amount will be reimbursed.
 
1.  Dan Eddy
 Your statement is not correct, because half the states do not have a cap on counseling costs or length of treatment, other than the overall maximum cap, which averages $25,000 (some are higher, a few are lower). The other half have caps typically ranging from a year to 3 years, or $2,000 - $5,000.
 
2.  Laura Reed
 It depends upon the state that you are working in. Each state will have different time and dollar limits.
 
 
What other documentation has to be submitted with the claim form for counseling reimbursement?
 
1.  Laura Reed
 Each state has different requirements but some require a treatment plan or session notes and the invoice for services. You should contact your state about what is required.
 
 
What are some key improvements that assistance programs can do to help victims with their compensation claims?
 
1.  Laura Reed
 Assistance programs should make training on compensation a priority so that well-informed advocates can make appropriate referrals. Assistance programs should have compensation program applications available. Assistance programs should explore other available resources for victims that are not eligible for the compensation program.
 
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