OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Crime Victim Compensation and Best Practices
Dan Eddy  -  2006/11/14
Hello, I have been actively applying for Victim Comp for someone who filed over 1 year late and have been denied all the way to appeals even though we had just cause to file late. What steps should I take to ensure that the victim does finally get what he has long since needed to help him move on and recover?
1.  Dan Eddy
 First, thank you very much for helping a victim apply -- this is exactly the kind of help some victims need, to make sure the forms are filled out correctly, and the documentation provided, and if there are any issues that come up like filing late to assist through the appeals process. Our hope would be that advocates and others tell victims about compensation in a timely fashion, so that problems like this dont arise. (Of course, compensation programs arent the only medical-payment programs that have deadlines most insurance companies do, too.)Requirements to file for victim compensation vary by state. Many states require that the application be filed within one year from the date of the crime, but quite a few have longer periods. These filing requirements are often set forth in law, and the program may not have the discretion to waive the one-year filing requirement. But many states can waive filing requirements for just cause, though they may differ somewhat on what constitutes just cause. It sounds like youve tried to make the case for what constitutes just cause in your situation. In determining your appeals, the program may have told you why your victims circumstances for filing late dont qualify as just cause -- if not, Id suggest clarifying that with the program management. Every state has appeals procedures, so all I can say is to pursue those procedures available to you if youre not satisfied with the programs determination.
As an advocate for victims/witnesses of domestic violence and sexual assault, I find some victims do not want to utilize the Crime Victim Compensation because the offender has threatened the victim/witness. What is a good course of action for an advocate to recommend to the victim if there are reports of being threatened or harrassed by the offender?
1.  Dan Eddy
 Generally speaking, much of the information in a compensation claim file is confidential -- medical reports, confidential police investigative reports. But some programs without special confidentiality protections do struggle with protecting information in a file when a defense attorney subpoenas it, or even when a reporter makes a Freedom of Information request. Most programs will do whatever they can to erase names, addresses, etc. and provide the minimum necessary to comply with any official request for information. Tough issue though for many programs -- check with them if you have concerns.
2.  Carissa Simpso
 Many states in this country also have an address confidentiality program. Advocates can offer this program to survivors. However it only works if the survivor is going to be moving to a new address
3.  Angela Dale
 Is the victim's application information held confidential? Would the offender andor their attorney ever have access to that information?
4.  Nicole
 We would encourage a victim to still file a claim with the Fund because we can provide up to $1,000 in relocation to remove that victim from the offender and that environment.
5.  Dan Eddy
 Safety of the victim should always come first. Quite a few state compensation programs can pay for relocating the victim to a safer place away from the offender paying for moving expenses especially, and in a few states, even a small amount of rent. It can become problematic if some DV and sexual assault victims dont want to report crimes, or if they do make an initial report, dont want to follow through in prosecution. Its hard for anyone other than the victim to know whats right in her situation, and trained advocates may be able to help her decide a course of action. Compensation programs generally do need police reports, though some can waive cooperation if there are serious fears for the victims life or safety. Worth exploring these possibilities with program management.
I am a national trainer on sexual violence and persons with disabilities. Service providers and families rarely know about Crime Victim Compensation. What steps are being taken so that persons with disabilities who are crime victims can access Compensation? thanks Shirley Paceley
1.  Jill Weston
 In California Dept of Corrections, Victims Services we often send out Victim Comp brochures with our notification paperwork and provide brochures as part of our outreach events. Whenwhere practical we try to include other agencies brochures and information and ask them to do the same.
2.  Dan Eddy
 Most compensation programs engage in extensive training and outreach efforts to try and educate all involved in assisting victims. The compensation system is a shared responsibility. Programs are responsible for training and educating service providers police, victim-witness assistants, service providers but those individuals and service programs are the ones we all depend on to tell victims. The system doesnt work if the people helping victims on a daily basis dont tell victims about compensation and help them apply.A best practice is for service providers to institutionalize training on victim compensation for every staff person. Pennsylvanias coalitions for rape and DV developed specialized curricula for those types of victim assistants and programs. You note a specific group with special needs victims with disabilities and its certainly true that while these victims may interact with people Ive mentioned above who should be getting training in their own offices about compensation -- those service providers focused on persons with disabilities also need to get the message about compensation. Every compensation program has brochures and applications that it would love to get out to any provider who wants them. And nearly all of them would welcome opportunities to provide training to any service providers who seek it. Id tell your trainees to seek out their program managers and ask for information and help.
How are states handling cases where the courts have ordered the offender to re-pay the State Victims Compensation Board for a claim, however the claim is for a victim who is the offender's family member (often a child sexual assault victim? In California, we automatically deduct from offender's trust account deposits to pay the victim restitution obligation to the Comp. Board. In some cases the parent (of both victim and offender) is contributing money and in essence paying back the Comp Board. This is often the case with juvenile offenders whose parents are jointly and severally responsible for their restitution.
1.  Dan Eddy
 California is particularly effective in replenishing its limited funding by going after the offenders who have caused the financial loss. With regard to juveniles, California recognizes the sensitivity of the family situation and approaches these scenarios on a very cautious, case by case basis. In situations where the family is paying the restitution, California can stay the collection until the juvenile turns 18. In DV cases, California tries to be equally sensitive. Im told that there is new case law that allows the compensation program to collect only from the personal assets of the perpetrator. Again, these situations will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
What constitutes "best practice" for juveniles needing to compensate victims? Are there programs that exist where the juvenile must "work" to pay instead of putting this burden on the parent?
1.  Dan Eddy
 I do apologize -- I'm not an expert in restitution practice in all the states. I can only say that victims of juveniles are as fully eligible for comp. as any other victim. (Under U.S. law, generally speaking, parents are responsible for the debts of their children.)
I would like to know how other states address compensation for victims who were riding with a drunk driver. Thank You.
1.  Dan Eddy
 Very tough situation. There often are other witnesses at the bar or wherever a victim was doing the drinking with the driver, who may know whether the victim observed the driver drinking, etc.If the victim did NOT know, then programs generally won't deny. But when the victim is no longer here, and no one else can say, it makes it tough. Some programs will base their decision on what they know for sure, so if the circumstances would indicate the victim probably didn't know the driver was drinking, they could pay. But programs also can take into account reasonable inferences, so that could play into the decision.
2.  Karen Smart
 Thank you. Would your answer be the same if the victim did not know the driver was drunk and if the victim is killed, how can that possibly be determined?
3.  Nicole
 We agree with Dan Eddy's reply. The Fund would have to take into consideration whether or not the passenger had known or should have known the driver was intoxicated.
4.  Dan Eddy
 First, all compensation programs are required by their state laws to consider any substantial contributory conduct of the victim that may have caused his own victimization. So drug dealers, or gang members, may be denied if their criminal activity caused their victimization. Someone who instigates, or willingly engages in, a bar fight also may be denied for contributory conduct, even if he ends up the one who is hurt badly.So, while generally speaking, a passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver, who is victimized by that drunk driver (say the driver runs into something) is eligible for compensation, many programs would have to consider what the contributory conduct of the victim might be. Did he know the driver was drunk? If not likely eligible. If so is the victim then taking the risk and doing something that we all know can lead to crashes, injury, and death? Should state governments cover the costs of these situations? These are tough questions for each program to consider under its own state law. And some programs surely would deny compensation to passengers who knowingly drive with drunk drivers.
In most states the compensation fund has not expanded to serve victims of serious financial crime. Yet VOCA Compensation and Assistance Programs allow funding for such programs as underserved victims. (See http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/infores/fraud/psvf/appenda.htm for a description of allowable funding for financial crime victim programs.) Researchers and victim services are increasingly recognizing that the impact of serious financial crime can be as harmful as many violent crimes. And there is no effective safety net of victim services for them. A few states allow VOCA compensation for financial crimes to cover costs such as mental health counseling and restitution advocacy. How are these working? How can these be publicized as promising practices?
1.  Dan Eddy
 Youre absolutely right financial fraud can have a serious impact on victims, not just on their bank accounts. To clarify, VOCA specifically prohibits spending VOCA money to replace lost property, including cash. So the only VOCA-allowable compensation is for counseling, financial planning, and other services of that type. Congress made this choice to emphasize violent crime when it passed VOCA, and it was only in 2001 that OVC (not Congress) told the states that they could (but did not have to) pay for counseling and related expenses for financial fraud victims. Its true that some victims of financial fraud and property crime need counseling to get them through a very painful situation. I assume that many more would simply like to get their money back, and federal law prohibits compensation programs from doing that. However, federal law does mandate restitution to try to do that, and makes that a priority in federal cases and our federal colleagues in U.S. Attorneys and FBI offices work hard to recover that money from offenders, and get it back to victims. Its also true that with limited resources, state legislatures have focused on helping victims of violence, not victims of nonviolent financial and white-collar crimes. (Two-thirds of the money for compensation programs comes from state governments, VOCA provides only a third.) Congress also made the choice to prioritize violent crime victims, and funded VOCA through what was likely the only viable source of non-tax money federal criminal fines. Its only been since 2001 that OVC (not Congress) chose to tell states that VOCA money could be used (but did not have to be used) on victims of financial fraud and other property crimes so long as it was only spent on counseling and the like.If memory serves, there are something like five times as many nonviolent crimes each year as violent ones (25 million nonviolent and 5 million violent). So it would be an enormous jump not only to try to provide financial help to these victims, but also to do outreach to ensure that all of them got the word. Whether this should be done is a public policy issue worth exploring. The very few state compensation programs that are authorized by their legislatures to pay for counseling for victims of nonviolent crimes do not report much demand for these services most victims are seeking the money or property that theyve lost, and if state governments were to start covering that, the costs would run into the billions. So there really isnt much of a practice yet to discuss but compensation programs certainly have discussed expansion into this area.Certainly providing counseling and restitution advocacy for financial-fraud victims is worthwhile, and perhaps VOCA service programs as well as compensation programs could be funded and expanded to provide such help but as always with limited resources, choices would have to be made. Would VOCA assistance programs for white-collar programs take money away from VOCA programs for DV victims and child victims and sexual assault victims?
One can safely assume that most VOCA money collected is from federal offenders (persons and businesses) who have committed financial crimes, not a violent crime. What steps should we be taking to ensure that financial crime victims benefit from programs and have access to the current victim services 'safety net' that their perpetrators fund? In addition, most federal victims are victims of financial crime -not violent crime. Should those who work with financial crime victims advocate for their own VOCA fund (perhaps splitting the current one) that would cover these victims? Based on your extensive experience, how would you craft a safety net of victim services for victims of financial crime and identity theft?
1.  Dan Eddy
 While perpetrators of federal financial crime certainly contribute much to the VOCA Crime Victims Fund, two-thirds of the comp. money is still coming from state governments. This is a great question for discussion and debate the compensation programs themselves (and certainly not me) arent the ones who can decide fundamental public policy questions like this. Again, Id say simply that with limited resources, choices must be made. Should we take VOCA money from its current uses and divert it to compensation and programs to help victims of nonviolent crimes? What does that mean for funding for existing programs for violent crimes programs that appear to be struggling financially as it is?Is it somehow a disconnect to take federal criminal fines and use them only or primarily for victims of violent offenses? Or is it the only viable way for the federal government to help states help the vast majority of victims, who are victims of state crimes, not federal ones? We know what Congress decided in 1984 -- to focus on victims of violence. Is it time for Congress to revisit this?
If victim services had to start over- and design a victim compensation program for the 21st century, what would it look like to you? What should victim compensation look like in the next 25-50 years? How do we initiate the debate? How do we dialogue to begin to create, to draft and plan a compensation program that can be both flexible and comprehensive, but perhaps based on individual need rather than limited categories of help for violent crime victims only. I am writing these questions as a private concerned citizen and look forward to your ideas and experienced analysis on these issues and challenges for the future.
1.  Dan Eddy
 Great, fundamental questions. Would love to have more time to explore these questions, which obviously are very worth exploring. I doubt Im the best person to opine on these issues though theyre of great interest to me. I can say that the history of compensation over the past 40 years of its existence has been an expansion to serve more victims in more complete ways. Programs are covering DV victims to a greater extent (nearly a third of all assault claims are paid to DV victims), and child victims. Theyve added relocation expenses, and forensic-exam costs, and daycare expenses, etc. (not all programs, but quite a few). Working with colleagues in victim services to identify new needs and to make rules more flexible (and then having to go to legislatures for authorization), programs will continue to try to meet more needs in better ways.More fundamentally, are we asking if every victim, of every nonviolent and violent crime, should be compensated for every expense, including pain and suffering? What would the price tag be? Are we each willing to pay for the loss of every victim who has been defrauded or robbed of money? Someone has to pay and while we can acknowledge that society ultimately pays in lost productivity, poor mental health outcomes, etc. to cover these losses through victim compensation would mean paying for it now and where would that money come from? When it comes to victim compensation, is the experience of other developed countries (Europe) at all helpful, if their social support and health care systems are so much more expansive and different than our own? We know that the one state that covered pain and suffering (like some European countries) fell 12 years and $12 million behind in paying claims.) So lets dialogue, but lets be realistic. We would need an enormous new commitment of resources to reach a goal today of covering all crime victims for every individual expense.
How accessible is victim's comp across the U.S. for payment of child medical exams and forensic interviews in abuse cases? North Carolina's statutory scheme limits most "rape kit" funding to adult cases.
1.  Dan Eddy
 Nineteen state victim compensation programs pay for forensic exams in sexual assault cases that typically involve the use of rape kits in hospital settings. (In 32 other states, these forensic-exam expenses are most often paid by prosecutors or police, though in some states there are other special funds for payment.) Children who are raped are fully eligible for payment of these expenses by these 19 compensation programs, including North Carolina. (I checked on this.) Children certainly would qualify under the regular rape-kit payment program in NC and other states. But some offenses may not involve rape-kit use, and medical expenses for evaluation of children can often be paid through a regular compensation application (this is true in NC). Forensic interviews may not be covered by compensation programs, since they might be more legitimately seen as a law enforcement expense. But checking with the compensation program to see how they handle this is the best advice.
Do most states have a prohibition against victims with criminal records or their families receiving victim compensation? Why or why not?
1.  Dan Eddy
 No. Only 7 states have some statutory prohibitions set by their legislatures that could prevent compensation from going to victims with criminal records (or their families for expenses related to the victimization of the person with the criminal record the family members would be eligible for their own victimizations).The why would take a lengthy answer. Some legislatures apparently have felt that someone with a recent criminal record of violence against others should not be eligible (some programs limit elibility only for 5 years after a violent or drug-related criminal offense). Ive been told that it was a compensation claim from the wife of a notorious Mob boss in Chicago, who was killed by rival mobsters (he was lying on his sofa, doing nothing wrong at the time, but of course was being targeted for the many offenses he'd committed over the years), that caused the legislature to force the compensation program to take criminal records into account. But the overwhelming majority of compensation programs neither seek nor consider criminal records of applicants.
We have encountered a problem with our local community mental health center receiving compensation for providing counseling to victims of crime. Our state, Arkansas, requires the mental health providers to enter into a contract to provide counseling at a rate lower than our state medicaid rate which jeopardizes their state medicaid agreement. This poses a problem for victims as they are unable to access services at the center unless they can self pay or have another pay source. Do you have any suggestions for how to handle this problem? Is it part of the federal compensation program to require a cap on the rate/amount paid for counseling (that may be lower than the rate approved by the state)?
1.  Dan Eddy
 Let me say first that it is not correct that a rate of payment set by a compensation program for counseling would jeopardize that service providers state Medicaid agreement. Many compensation programs do set reasonable limits on counseling payments, and nearly always theyre higher than what Medicaid would pay (which according to my information is the case in Arkansas). However, if a provider accepts Medicaid patients (and she or he is free not to), then the provider must accept Medicaids payment as payment in full. Its against federal law for the compensation program to pay anything above what Medicaid pays it would be against federal law for the service provider to seek or accept anything above what Medicaid would pay. Compensation programs cant pay for the difference between what Medicaid would pay and what the compensation program would ordinarily pay the compensation program cant pay anything at all in those Medicaid cases.Also, states generally expect victims to use collateral resources, whether it would be medical insurance or a public benefit program like Medicaid. If there are special reasons why a victim needs to see someone outside their insurance plan, or Medicaid (if theyre eligible for Medicaid), then some programs can consider those reasons and make exceptions. But if a service provider is willing to accept Medicaid patients, then they have to be willing to accept Medicaid payments as payment in full thats the federal Medicaid law.
If all states and territories amend there statutes and/or rules and regulations preventing US Citizens victimized aboard by terrorism or mass violence from filing for lost wages and loss of support, what options do they have? The Federal International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement program does not cover lost wages and loss of support.
1.  Dan Eddy
 Its true that the new federal ITVERP program for terrorism victims doesnt cover lost wages or lost support. So victims of terrorist crimes in foreign countries still have to go to state compensation programs for that help. But not to worry, at least so far ALL of the states still cover those expenses for their residents victimized by terrorism in foreign countries; NO state has deleted this coverage, and Ive not heard of any state planning to.
I am curious to know if there is any difference in processing crime victim compensation claims here in Guam different than the United States? If so, what are they?
1.  Dan Eddy
 The training is open only to people employed by crime victim compensation programs in the states or territories. So, unfortunately, we don't have space for advocates and others outside the state government agencies. And to be honest, there are other opportunities for crime victim compensation training that would be much more helpful for someone like yourself working in a MADD office -- for example, we provide training at the NOVA conference, which will be held in Reno, NV next year (www.trynova.org), and at which you could get training on many, many other issues as well.
2.  lsalas
 May I have the information for the next training? I am interested to attend as a MADD Victim Advocate. Thanks so much.
3.  Dan Eddy
 I'm not sure! Invite me to Guam to take a look! I'm glad Guam has a program in operation -- and I hope they come to our next training conference to discuss various procedures!
Are relocation resources available to assist a victim who has been assaulted and left for dead in his/her own home? The perpetrator is unknown at this time. The victim was not sexually assaulted, therefore, did not qualify for relocation help from CVC.
1.  Dan Eddy
 It depends on the state -- while a number can relocate victims, quite a few aren't authorized to pay for this expense. Most would likely want to have some reason to base the relocation decision on -- is the victim legitimately in fear of her safety? This is more often paid in cases of domestic violence, where the perpetrator and victim are sharing a residence that she needs to leave to be safe. Assault by a stranger in a residence is a different matter, so you'd have to check with the program.
2.  Nicole
 Relocation is not restricted to any particular crime. Instead, if someone is in fear for their safety, or that of their family, they may qualify for relocation expenses.
I work with a victim who was kidnapped in the country of Angola. He was referred by a federal advocate to the Florida Victim Compensation program, but was denied because the crime did not take place in FL. There seemed to be no corresponding federal program that could help him get compensation. Do you have any recommendations as to what recourse he has?
1.  Dan Eddy
 If the kidnapping was terrorist-related, go to OVC's ITVERP. If just a regular kidnapping, it's true that about half the states do not extend compensation coverage to their residents who are victims of crimes overseas (and, of course, half do). Advocates need to check with each state to see how far its coverage goes.
Dan, we need to do a better job getting the word out about Vic/Comp Programs. So many don't know what it is and availability. What can we do to improve on this?
1.  Josh Cohen
 I have some anectodal evidence that Public Service Announcements and mass media DO in fact work. While it clearly is important for victims to receive good information at the moment of crisis, it also appears to be the case that PSAs and broadcast advertising work too. We work with Victim Resource centers around the country, and several have experienced success from various marketing campaigns. These range from radio and tv spots to professionally designed bus ads and the like. It's interesting that not only do these campaigns generate more calls from potential clients, they also are effective at generating calls from people wanting to volunteer.
2.  Dan Eddy
 I agree with you that getting the word out is really difficult. There certainly are more victims than there are people in the victims field. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that generally, every victim who reports a crime sees SOMEONE. A police officer; someone in a victim-witness program; a DV shelter worker; a hospital ER doctor. Compensation programs need to train these programs -- but the programs need to train their own staff, and make sure this is institutionalized to the point that every new worker gets that compensation know-how. It doesn't have to be all the details -- but do they even know there's a program? That there's a form to hand to the victim and to help complete? I don't think there are any truly brilliant new ways to get the word out -- there may be more examples of collaboration and training with newer types of programs, but it basically remains the hard work that comp. programs and their colleagues have been doing all along.I do know -- because we just discussed this at a conference -- that comp. program managers are eager to train the field. And they're utterly dependent on the field to bring victims in.
3.  Annette
 Mr. Eddy, State's don't have the funding to work one on one with victims. How else could we address the issue of best practice for emotional abuse victims?
4.  Carissa Simpso
 Where I am employed we talk about victims comp during an initial appointment with a survivor and we also make it a part of the literiture that we hand out at an initial appointment.
5.  Dan Eddy
 This is THE fundamental challenge -- getting the word out. It's a shared responsibility. First, the compensation program must do what it can to train advocates, police, V-W personnel, etc. We've found that Public Service announcements don't work -- victims need to hear about comp. when they need it, and the people talking to victims when the need help are in police departments, prosecutor offices, DV and rape-crisis programs, hospitals, etc -- NOT (generally) in compensation programs (the victim won't call a comp. program until she's heard from someone else that it exists). Does every victim service program train its staff to know what compensation is, and how to help victims apply? Does every staff person know to ask a victim about financial injury, as well as the emotional and physical? Comp. doesn't work unless this shared responsibility -- training and informing -- is taken seriously by EVERY person who works to help victims.
Is there any changes or discussion related to the fact that DUI victims can't get any monetary assistance related to the vehicle damage?
1.  mavis nimoh
 I understand the current laws and the reasons, as an advocate for DUI victims, it's part of my duty to inquire, which you have so graciously answered.
2.  Dan Eddy
 I'd have to say, not really. Federal law (VOCA) prohibits use of VOCA money for property damage or loss. I hate to repeat again that resources are limited, but can comp. programs (meaning, state governments) really come up with the money to cover the vast amounts of vehicle damage caused on the nation's roads by drunk drivers? The insurance companies for victim-driver and offender-driver (and uninsured motorist funds) may be the ones to look toward for property damage.
Must a victim be an American citizen or documented immigrant to be eligible for CVC?
1.  Dan Eddy
 It's a basic rule that victims have to report their crimes to the police to be eligible for crime victim compensation. Otherwise, how is the compensation program going to document why they sent money to or on behalf of someone? (A few programs are able to show some flexibility when child victims or domestic violence victims have reported to some other govt. authority or mandated reporter; or when sexual assault victims have submitted to a forensic exam.)But the compensation program won't be asking the police whether the victim is a documented alien; it's just not the business of the compensation program to find out. Whether the police would need to know is another matter.
2.  Jennifer
 What about the growing concern that state police will report on the citizenship status of illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities? If getting CVC requires contacting the police, does this also lead to a risk of deportation? (I am thinking especially in terms of Massachusetts here.)
3.  Dan Eddy
 The short answer, currently, is no. You don't have to be a citizen or documented immigrant to be compensated. It's not an eligibility requirement under state compensation law, except in Nevada (you must be a U.S. resident there), and Texas (you must simply be a resident).
If a victim is receiving financial benefits from the military as a result of them being victimized by a military member, does that preclude them from applying for other victims compensation programs as well?
1.  Dan Eddy
 No -- no preclusion from applying. But the comp. program will regard the military benefit as a collateral resource -- meaning the military will pay first for whatever it can, and then the comp. program can pick up the slack.
Are you aware of any new victim compensation remedies for victims of 9/11? Thank you,
1.  Dan Eddy
 No, I'm not aware of anything new. Some victims got both federal (special fund) compensation and state compensation, and some of the state comp. may be ongoing for mental health needs. Charities may still be helping, as well.
We are in a state that does not authorize the use of victim compensation funds for relocation or moving expenses. We have investigated the possibility of filing enabling legislation permitting such use but we fear it would result in reducing another victim service agency's funding. Do you have any thoughts on how additional victim compensation funds could be obtained for this specific purpose ?
1.  Dan Eddy
 Money is tight. Many people have been involved just in trying to save the VOCA resources we all depend on, from rescission efforts. There aren't any truly brilliant new ways to find money for victim compensation -- though at least one state is now getting a portion of punitive damages in civil cases. But most states depend on that $25 or $50 per offender, plus the VOCA money. Let me know if you discover any new source! (I'm serious.)
One frustration we run into consistently is that parents/guardians of child victims cannot be reimbursed for lost wages and/or transportation costs, even though they must take time off work to transport their children to court, counseling, and other appointments. What is the reasoning behind this, and is it handled differently in other states? Thank you.
1.  AK Compensation
 In Alaska, we do cover this type of reimbursement.
2.  chholden
 what states offer lost wages for parents of child victims?how can we get it implemented?
3.  Dan Eddy
 I know that most states can't cover this. A few do. As far as reasoning, I think it gets back to the history of compensation. You start with the basic expenses -- medical, counseling, funeral, lost wages and support for someone disabled or for the family of the murdered person. Then you see what resources you have, and you add more and more items -- relocation for DV victims, child care when the parent is disabled and can't provide that care, or the costs you've named. Is the money there? How difficult will it be to administer the new expense? (States covering DV relocation not only are spending very large amounts of money on this, but are having to expend disproportionately more staff time monitoring these cases.
4.  Nicole
 As of June 9, 2006, our statute permits us to cover such expenses.
In South Dakota, a person who is raped while intoxicated (even if she is of legal drinking age) is denied victim's compensation as she is deemed to contribute to her own injury/crime even if she was out with friends and raped by a stranger. Another woman was raped but the reports cited a condem in her purse and so she was denied. Do other states have such strict interpretations of victim complicity. Appealing every case is not victim-friendly. The state says they are warding off 'bar fight' claims but at the expense of many legitimate cases. Where would one even start the change process?
1.  AK Compensation
 In Alaska, the Board that makes claim decisions is statutorily prohibited from denying a claim on this type of basis. This law was recently enacted.
2.  Susan Sheppick
 Although confidentiality prevents me from discussing individual cases, I appreciate the writer's concern for rape victims. Rape is a horrible crime which often goes un-reported by the victim. As the Program Manager for South Dakota's Crime Victims Compensation Program, I can attest to the fact that a rape victim would not be denied compensation solely because of the victims intoxication. If other circumstances existed which significantly contributed to the victim's injury, or the victim committed or otherwise participated in a crime which caused or contributed to the victim's injury, then a basis for denial may exist. You may view the statutes that govern South Dakota's program on the web at sdvictims.com, or feel free to call 1-800-696-9476 if you have further concerns. I would be more than happy to visit with you about the laws and policies of the program. Again, I do appreciate your concerns.
3.  Dan Eddy
 With all respect, I can't confirm whether the rationale provided for the denials is as you state it. I'm not disagreeing with you, but just want to make clear that I'm not familiar at all with such cases or decisions in SD. Again, I'm not speaking about your cases, because I don't know anything about them, but we sometimes find that there are myths about comp. programs that somehow take hold, but simply don't reflect reality. Again -- no offense intended! You may be right -- I just don't know. There could be other facts or other bases for the decision, that we don't have here.In general: Some programs are required by law to deny claims when someone has committed a criminal offense, regardless whether it contributes to their victimization. Most require some connection -- the victim's conduct causes what happens to him (a bar fight, for example -- if someone starts a fight, or willingly accepts the invitation to fight, and then ends up being a victim, that's a pretty clear case for denial in nearly every state).What constitutes contributory conduct is wrestled with by every state, and we spend hours at every conference of comp. programs discussing it. I think it would be fair to say that victims are not denied for simply imbibing alcohol, even to excess, unless criminal conduct is involved in some way on their part (and even then this would lead to denial in only a few states); and simply having a birth-control device in one's pocket, would not be a basis for denial in most states. Again, I am not confirming at all that that was the basis for denial in the cases you cite.But compensation programs do depend on feedback from their colleagues in victim services and other related fields to help them understand what victims go through, and what their circumstances are. Discussion with the NM comp. program and DV and sexual assault advocates led to a lengthening of reporting periods in that state. I'd encourage anyone to raise your concerns in direct discussions with program leaders, in settings other than appeals.
What are other states doing, if anything, to ensure that minorities are aware of the existence of crime victim compensation?
1.  Dan Eddy
 Ohio went to the churches in urban communities. South Carolina has extensive outreach to minorities. Many programs have brochures (and some have applications) in Spanish. More needs to be done -- and again, it gets back to training of providers of services who are willing to take responsibility for telling each victim they see about the opportunity for compensation. Personally, I'm a believer in funding advocates in police departments in cities, because we know that every victim is in touch with a police department -- but they may never get to a prosecutor or a specialized victim service program.
2.  Ohio Advocate
 We offer all of the compensation forms and information to all of our victims. We also use public awareness so that everyone knows about the compensation.
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