Skip navigation

Compensating Victims of Crime Douglas Evans CUNY 2014

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
Compensating
Victims of Crime
Douglas N. Evans
Research & Evaluation Center
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
June 2014

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS |
Preparation of this report was supported by a grant from Justice Fellowship.
The author wishes to thank the members of Justice Fellowship, specifically Craig
DeRoche, Jesse Wiese, David Eber, and Karen Strong, for their guidance and
support during the development of this report. This report would not have been
possible without contributions from other staff in the Research & Evaluation
Center, including Marissa Mandala, Kathy Tomberg, Hannah Adler, Sheyla
Delgado, and Jeffrey Butts. Special thanks to Steven Derene and Elizabeth Cronin
for their insightful comments on early drafts of this report.

www.justicefellowship.org

Copyright by the Research & Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal
Justice, City University of New York (CUNY).
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
www.johnjayrec.org
Published online June 2014
Any views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect
the policies of John Jay College, the City University of New York, or its funders.
Recommended Citation
Evans, Douglas (2014). Compensating Victims of Crime. New York, NY: Research
& Evaluation Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New
York.
Author
Douglas Evans is a project director with the Research and Evaluation Center at
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY). He
earned the Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

summary |
Victims of certain crimes in the United States are entitled to financial
compensation to cover the costs associated with victimization. Lawmakers
believe that victims should have rights that are comparable to the legal rights
of offenders. The government has a moral obligation to assist innocent victims
of violent crime and their families as they experience the traumatic effects
of violent crime. For this reason, the federal and state governments provide
funding to assist victims of crime. The specific provisions of compensation
policies vary, including eligibility requirements, sources of funding, and maximum
amounts paid to victims. The federal government distributes a large portion of
compensation funds, and there is currently more than $10 billion in the Crime
Victims Fund. With such a large amount of reserve funds, federal officials are
often tempted to use a portion of the funds to balance budget lines or for other
non-victim purposes. Victim compensation is a valuable program that helps
thousands of victims each year, but compensation programs are underutilized
and administrative complexity often makes it difficult for victims to receive
compensation. This report gives an overview of the victim compensation system,
explores problems with the system, and offers suggestions for improvement.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

INTroduction |
Victim compensation is the government’s way of financially assisting victims and
survivors of crime, but the current system is underused and sometimes misused.
Violence affects victims and survivors of crime in a number of ways. In addition to
physical harm, victims and survivors may suffer emotionally and financially. Victim
costs can include medical and mental health counseling expenses and the costs
of fixing or replacing damaged or destroyed property. Victims who are unable to
work because of physical or mental impairment lose income. When victimization
results in death, surviving family members may be responsible for funeral costs.
Without insurance, these costs may become overwhelming.
Government-funded victim compensation programs provide financial relief
to victims and survivors of crime. There is some overlap between victim
compensation and restitution in that both are payments to victims of crime, but
they differ in terms of eligibility, source funding, and distribution. Courts may
require offenders to pay restitution to their victims, but this is only possible if the
victim reports the crime, a criminal investigation results in apprehension of the
offender, the offender is convicted in court, and a judge requires the offender
to pay restitution. Victim compensation refers to government funds that cover
victims’ and survivors’ out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., medical bills, funerals) and
lost wages. Courts can order restitution for a wide range of damages, including
offenses involving property damage. Victim compensation covers a narrower
range of damages usually pertaining to violent offenses that resulted in physical
harm, although some states offer compensation for victims who experience
emotional trauma. Very few states award compensation for property loss or
damage, so a victim of burglary or theft is far more likely to receive restitution
than victim compensation. Victims are not permitted to receive restitution and
compensation for the same damages. Victim compensation is nontaxable while
restitution is generally considered taxable income (Trang 2002).
Victim compensation funds assist approximately 200,000 victims and survivors
of crime each year, and nearly $500 million is awarded to victims and survivors
annually (National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards a). However,
this represents only a small percentage of all victims. In 2012, there were nearly
seven million victims of violent crime age 12 and older (Truman, Langton and
Planty 2013). This suggests that very few of the crime victims who are eligible to
receive compensation, apply for and ultimately receive it (Alvidrez et al. 2008).
This report discusses the system by which victims and survivors can be
compensated for expenses resulting from their victimization or from the
death of a family member. Compensation originates from state statutes and
is supplemented by federal funds, which represent one-third of benefits paid.
States distribute compensation in the form of reimbursements to eligible victims
and survivors whose claims are approved. The financial structure of victim
compensation is problematic at the federal level, where funds are vastly under
allocated. While some states have more than enough funds to pay compensation
benefits, other state programs are understaffed or suffer from improper methods
of accounting.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 1

Background |
Victim compensation was developed because of the government’s moral
responsibility to provide financial relief to victims of crime, to enhance public
safety, and to encourage citizen cooperation with the criminal justice system.
Prior to victim compensation programs, victims and survivors were often not
able to access financial reparation for costs associated with their victimization
or loss. Some offenders are never apprehended, and many who are arrested
and convicted do not have the means to pay restitution or simply refuse to
pay. In response, government-funded victim compensation emerged in the
1960s to offer monetary resources to victims and survivors who had not been
compensated through other means. Early state victim compensation programs
were largely ineffective at ameliorating the financial plight of victims and
survivors because the programs suffered from a lack of funding, limited public
exposure, and inaccessibility to victims and survivors (Fritsch et al. 2004).
Furthermore, the programs did not improve crime reporting as its founders had
initially hoped (Fritsch et al. 2004).
The federal government passed the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to
provide financial support to state compensation programs that were unable
to cover victims of federal crimes. VOCA also led to the development of victim
compensation programs in the 14 states that lacked compensation programs at
the time VOVA was enacted (S. Derene, personal communication, May 21, 2014).
VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), a federal source of funding that
reimburses out-of-pocket expenses and funds services for victims and survivors
of crime. The Department of Justice administers these funds, which come from
offenders convicted of federal crimes in the form of criminal fines, penalties
for criminal convictions, forfeited bail bonds, forfeitures of profits from crime,
and charges for convictions that range from $25 for misdemeanors to $400 for
felonies (Office for Victims of Crime 2013a).

deposits and disbursements
VOCA is a mandatory spending program, which means that VOCA funds are
legally required to be spent on certain programs that benefit victims. Initially,
all funds deposited into the CVF were distributed amongst states the following
year. From 1984 until it was lifted in 1993, there was a limit on the amount of
funds that could be deposited into the CVF, which vacillated between $100
million and $150 million (Office for Victims of Crime 2013a). There were no limits
on the amount of funds that could be disbursed until 2000, when Congress
capped the disbursement amount at $500 million because of year to year
fluctuations in deposit amounts. The cap gradually increased to $705 million in
2010 and remained at that amount through 2012 (Office for Victims of Crime
2013a). According to an official at the National Association of VOCA Assistance
Administrators, nearly $20 billion has been deposited into the CVF since 1984. Of
this amount, approximately 60 percent consists of fines paid by 48 defendants,
some of which are large corporations convicted of fraud or price fixing. The
current fund has a balance approaching $11 billion (S. Derene, personal
communication, February 10, 2014).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 2

Annual Deposit Amounts and Caps on the Crime Victims Fund

Fiscal Year

Previous Year Deposits

Cap on Disbursements

2000

$985,185,354

$500,000,000

2001

$776,954,858

$537,500,000

2002

$544,437,015

$550,000,000

2003

$519,466,480

$600,000,000

2004

$361,341,967

$621,312,500

2005

$833,695,013

$620,000,000

2006

$668,268,054

$625,000,000

2007

$649,631,046

$625,000,000

2008

$1,017,977,475

$590,000,000

2009

$896,316,825

$635,000,000

2010

$1,745,677,602

$705,000,000

2011

$2,362,337,940

$705,000,000

2012

$1,998,220,205

$705,000,000

2013

$2,795,547,045

$730,000,000

2014

N/A

$745,000,000

Source: National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) administers funds from the CVF. A formula
determines how the funds are distributed. First, approximately $20 million is
allocated to fund child abuse investigation and prosecution. Funds are then
allocated to Victim Witness Coordinator positions in U.S. Attorney’s Offices ($22
million in 2012),Victim Specialists in the FBI ($16 million in 2012), and the Victim
Notification System ($5 million in 2012). Of the remaining funds, up to 95 percent
is split between two formula grants - state victim compensation grants that
reimburse victims and survivors for expenses related to victimization, and victim
assistance grants that fund state victim service programs. The OVC uses the
remaining five percent as discretionary grant funds to support training, technical
assistance, and demonstration projects (Office of the Inspector General 2013).
Federal compensation for victims does not exist except in the event that a U.S.
citizen is the victim of terrorism while traveling abroad (National Association of
Crime Victim Compensation Boards a).

state victim compensation |
Each state has a crime victim compensation program that provides
reimbursement funds to victims of violent crimes and/or their surviving family
members for out-of-pocket expenses (National Center for Victims of Crime 2012).
States administer their victim compensation programs independently, but there
are similarities and distinctions across states regarding sources of funding for
compensation programs, balances in state compensation accounts, the process of
submitting a claim and receiving approval for compensation, compensable costs,
and amount of payments to victims and victim assistance programs.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 3

sources of funding
The federal government contributes annual VOCA grants to states to fund
their victim compensation programs. Victim compensation programs are then
managed and funds are distributed at the state level. States receive approximately
37 percent of their victim compensation funds from federal VOCA/CVF funds and
the remainder comes from state sources (Newmark and Schaffer 2003). States
have four years to spend annual allotments for victim compensation. They must
return remaining funds to the federal government after that period. In addition
to VOCA grants, many states supplement their own victim compensation funds
using fees levied on individuals convicted of felony and misdemeanor crimes and
fines imposed on those who commit traffic violations. Alaska requires individuals
convicted of felonies or multiple misdemeanors to forfeit their annual checks that
all residents receive from the state oil fund. Connecticut garnishes three percent
of the wages of halfway house clients for its victim compensation program. The
District of Columbia funds its program through court revenues. Delaware fines
sex offenders to offset the costs of forensic rape exams. Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas,
Minnesota, Nebraska, and New Mexico garnish a portion of inmate wages
(National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards b). (See Appendix A
for a list of sources of state victim compensation funding.)

state balances
Some states publish the outstanding balances in their victim compensation
fund accounts. This refers to the amount of funds remaining after compensation
programs have disbursed funds to victims. Three states listed balances of less
than $2 million: Illinois, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Three states reported
balances between $2 million and $10 million: Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama.
Two states listed balances in their victim compensation fund of more than $10
million: Ohio and Florida.

Victim Compensation Fund Balances: Selected States that have Reported
State

Balance

Year

Alabama

$9,020,489

As of 9/30/2012

Arizona

$2,678,700

FY 2014 projected balance

Connecticut

$1,572,531

FY 2014 projected balance

Florida

$14,820,135

As of 6/30/2013

Illinois

$767,000

Start of FY 2013

Michigan

$3,748,428

End of FY 2013

Ohio

$13,800,000

End of FY 2013

Rhode Island

$1,936,968

Start of FY 2013

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 4

Accessing Compensation
The application process for victim compensation begins in the state where the
crime occurred. States have different requirements and procedures for victims
who wish to receive compensation. The general requirements include the
following: 1) the crime must be reported to law enforcement within a specified
amount of time; 2) an application for compensation must be filed within a
required time period; 3) victims/claimants must cooperate with law enforcement
and prosecutors in the investigation of the crime and prosecution of the
offender; and 4) victims/claimants must not have been involved as a participant
in the crime (National Center for Victims of Crime 2012).
Nearly half the states require victims or survivors to report the crime to law
enforcement within 72 hours of its occurrence in order to be eligible for
compensation; 12 states require a police report to be filed in five to ten days; and
seven states require a crime to be reported in a reasonable time period or have
no time limit for reporting (National Association of Crime Victim Compensation
Boards b).
States also have different time limits for filing an application to access
compensation. The majority of states require victims and survivors to file a
compensation claim within one to two years. Victims and survivors in thirteen
states are allowed three or more years to file a compensation claim (National
Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards b). Eligibility requirements
vary by state as well. For instance, several states (e.g., California, Missouri, Ohio)
place restrictions on the receipt of victim compensation for any individuals with a
felony conviction in the last ten years. (See Appendix B for victim compensation
eligibility requirements by state).
The maximum amount of compensation that victims and survivors can receive
varies by state. California has the highest listed maximum compensation
amount ($63,000), although two states (Iowa and New York) do not have a
limit on the amount of compensation that victims and survivors can receive
(National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards b). The average
maximum across all states is approximately $26,000. However, several states
offer additional funds ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 for catastrophic injuries,
permanent disability, or funeral expenses (National Association of Crime Victim
Compensation Boards b). New York is the only state that does not limit spending
for victims’ medical reimbursements (E. Cronin, personal communication, May 27,
2014).
Individuals who are eligible for victim compensation include the following:
1) a victim of a crime who has been physically injured; 2) a victim who suffers
emotional injury as a result of violence/attempted violence regardless of physical
injury incurred (for most states); 3) family members of deceased victims; and 4)
in some states, any individual who pays for expenses resulting from a victim’s
injury/death (National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards c).
Three primary factors determine whether a victim will receive compensation:
coverage, benefits, and eligibility. Coverage dictates that compensation depends
on the type of crime committed and the loss that victims incur. Benefits refers to
the amount of existing funds in state victim compensation programs. Eligibility

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 5

Maximum Compensation Awards that States Pay to Victims of Crime

$30,000 or more
$25,000 to $27,000
$10,000 to $20,000
Source: National Association for Crime Victim Compensation Boards (b)

means that victims receive less compensation or are ineligible if they were
involved in the offense in any way (Smith 2006). Victims must provide supportive
documentation to have their compensation claim processed. This can include a
police report verifying that they were the victim of an eligible crime and expense
documentation (e.g., medical receipts) validating that expenses are authorized
for reimbursement. In New York, for example, victims are potentially eligible for
compensation if they report the crime to any criminal justice agency, including
the police, district attorney, family court, Child or Adult Protective Services. A
forensic rape exam at a certified provider fulfills the reporting requirement (E.
Cronin, personal communication, May 27, 2014).
Each state has a different procedure for reviewing and approving compensation
claims. Some states have a board that reviews compensation claims and makes
a final determination. In other states, an executive director, program director,
compensation director, or program board has the authority to award or deny
compensation claims (National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
b). (See Appendix C for a state by state list of determining authorities.) The Office
for Victims of Crime (2013b) compiled information from 53 states and territories
in 2012 and found that more than 186,000 victim compensation claims (or
about 74%) were approved and about 66,000 claims were denied. Some states
have a higher claim acceptance rate than others. For instance, in the fiscal year
2011-2012 Kansas paid out nearly $4 million to 928 victims while denying 193
claims (79% approval) (Kansas Attorney General 2012). In the same fiscal year,
Virginia awarded 1,328 victims of crime more than $2 million and denied 660
claims (49% approval) (Virginia Workers Compensation Commission 2012).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 6

compensable costs
Victim compensation covers certain expenses in all states, but some states
allocate additional funds for other expenses. All states reimburse victims and
survivors for medical costs, mental health counseling, lost wages, loss of support
to dependents, and funerals associated with the victimization. Some states also
reimburse victims and survivors for travel to court appearances, property loss,
crime scene cleanup, and attorney fees (National Center for Victims of Crime
2012). Certain states only provide funds to victims who experience physical
injuries resulting from crime while other states extend payment to those who
experience emotional trauma stemming from victimization. Arizona, Arkansas,
Michigan, New York, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Washington, DC provide
compensation to residents who are victims of terrorist attacks that occur while
they are abroad, in lieu of federal compensation (National Association of Crime
Victim Compensation Boards b). Victim compensation is a payer of last resort,
meaning that reimbursements only cover expenses that are not already covered
by restitution, insurance, or other financial sources.

Compensable Costs Vary Across States
Compensable Costs

States that Compensate

Medical Expenses

All States

Mental Health Counseling

All States

Lost Wages

All States

Funeral Costs

All States

Travel

42 States

Crime Scene Cleanup

35 States + Washington, DC

Emergency

34 States + Washington, DC

Attorney Fees

31 States + Washington, DC

Rehabilitation

29 States

Replacement Services

24 States

Moving/Relocation Expenses

24 States + Washington, DC + some
Colorado districts

Pain and Suffering

Hawaii, Tennessee

Property Loss

Florida, New York

Stolen Cash

New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

Transportation

Washington, DC

Return of Abducted Child

Minnesota

Guide Dog Expenses

Connecticut

Domestic Services

New Jersey

Home Healthcare

Pennsylvania

Forensic Exams in Sexual Assaults

New York, Washington

Source: National Association for Crime Victim Compensation Boards (b)

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 7

Claims and payments to victims and victim
assistance projects
Victims and survivors of crime who wish to receive financial compensation must
first file a claim. However, many victims do not file claims and thus never receive
compensation (Alvidrez et al. 2008). Data from 2012 indicate that nearly half of
all victims who filed a claim and were approved for financial compensation were
victims of assault (Office for Victims of Crime 2013b). Approximately half of all
compensation payments covered medical and dental costs.

Total Claims and Amount Paid by Crime Type (2012)
Crime Type

Number of Claims

Amount Paid

Assault

71,466

$230,076,117

Homicide

14,430

$59,048,081

Child Abuse

28,266

$28,402,992

Robbery

9,012

$19,609,999

Sexual Assault

13,157

$16,047,691

Non-DUI/DWI Vehicular

3,093

$15,686,586

DUI/DWI

2,222

$12,484,221

Stalking

866

$982,846

Kidnapping

492

$833,034

Arson

238

$708,810

Terrorism

67

$230,780

Other

4,160

$10,205,876

Total

147,469

$394,317,033

Source: Office for Victims of Crime (2013b)

Total Amount Paid for Victim Services and Support (2012)

Medical/Dental

$220,426,917

Lost Wages

$54,157,939

Mental Health

$41,385,400

Funeral

$40,832,766

Forensic Sexual
Assault Exams

$39,437,665

Other
Crime Scene
Cleanup

$27,396,383
$943,457

Source: Office for Victims of Crime (2013b)

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 8

Payments to victims and survivors of crime fluctuate from year to year. From 2005
($426 million) to 2009 ($478 million), the amount of money that states paid to
victims and survivors gradually increased (National Association of Crime Victim
Compensation Boards b). The violent crime rate during this time period actually
decreased, from 469 per 100,000 in 2005 to 387 per 100,000 in 2009 (Federal
Bureau of Investigation 2013). This suggests that victim compensation payments
are unrelated to the crime rate. The amount of compensation paid to victims
decreased after 2009. In 2012, the 50 states and Washington, DC paid a combined
$422 million to victims and survivors of crime, which is an average of more than
$8 million per state. Texas ($70 million) and California ($69 million) paid the
most to victims and survivors, while half of all other states distributed less than
$4 million each in compensation (Office for Victims of Crime 2013c). California
paid victims and survivors $125 million in 2001-2002, one of the highest annual
victim compensation amounts any state has paid, but the large payout was due
primarily to a one-time concerted effort to eliminate a backlog (California Victim
Compensation and Government Claims Board 2012). Payments to victims are a
function of the number of applicants, number of approved claims, amount of
federal VOCA funds allocated to states, and total compensation funds available in
each state. (See Appendix D for victim compensation awards by state.)
All states have an appeals process for applicants whose claims for victim
compensation are rejected. Many states also have a reconsideration process
where applicants can request that the compensation board reconsider their
claim first and then go through a separate appeals process if the reconsideration
hearing still results in a denial of their claim. About half of all states require an
appeal to be made within 30 days of the applicant’s notification of rejection.

Total Victim Compensation Paid in Millions

$478
$461
$453
$444
$426

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Source: National Association for Crime Victim Compensation Boards (2011)

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 9

Victim assistance programs are distinct from victim compensation payments
that are paid directly to victims and survivors. Victim assistance projects include
shelter for victims, as well as services such as counseling, crisis intervention,
and legal assistance, depending on the programs that are available in each
jurisdiction. States fund their victim assistance programs through VOCA
assistance grants, other federal grant programs, and state funding (S. Derene,
personal communication, May 21, 2014).

problems with victim compensation |
There are several issues that impede victims and survivors of crime from receiving
compensation that would offset the financial costs and loss of income resulting
from their victimization. Many victims do not report their victimization to law
enforcement, which makes them ineligible for compensation. In some instances,
compensation eligibility requirements are unclear and victims may not know if
they are eligible to apply. Administrative complications may also prevent entitled
victims from receiving compensation. Additional issues at the federal and state
level often reduce the amount of services and financial resources available to
victims and survivors of crime.

Victims and Survivors
Many victims and survivors of violent crimes are ineligible to receive
compensation because they did not report their crimes to the authorities within
the allotted time frame or they did not report the crimes at all. According to
the National Crime Victimization Survey, 42 percent of victims do not report
even serious violent crimes to law enforcement officials (Langton et al. 2012).
There are a variety of reasons why people do not report crime, including fear of
repeat victimization, mistrust of police, and fear of stigmatization. Certain victim
characteristics are associated with a lower likelihood of reporting victimization.
Victims who are young, male, and ethnic minorities, especially African Americans,
are less likely to report violent crimes committed against them (Alvidrez et al.
2008). Victims cannot receive compensation unless they make an official report
and cooperate with law enforcement during follow up investigations.
Victims and survivors may not always be aware of compensation programs,
which is an issue that has existed since victim compensation programs first
began. Studies conducted in both Texas and Florida found that victims are not
consistently notified of their rights to receive compensation (Davis and Mulford
2008). The Office for Victims of Crime asked states to report the issues that
prevent victims from filing compensation claims, and several states indicated
that many victims and survivors are not aware of the existence of compensation
programs and lack education on compensation benefits (Office for Victims
of Crime 2013c). Because victim compensation is not as well-known as other
forms of compensation (i.e., workers compensation), lack of awareness is often
the primary obstacle that victims and survivors must overcome (Newmark and
Schaffer 2003).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 10

$2.2 billion

60,000,000

Not Transferred to
States for Victim
Assistance or
Compensation

$

Total violent & property victimizations in 2012
(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. DOJ)

11,000,000

$

Violent & serious property crimes
reported to police in 2012
(Source: FBI, U.S. DOJ)

$2.8 billion

8,600,000

Deposits into Crime
Victims Fund in 2013

(Source: National Association of
VOCA Assistance Administrators)

Violent victimizations
in 2012
(Source: BJS, U.S. DOJ)

$

1,900,000
Violent crimes
reported to
police in 2012
(Source: FBI,

$560 million
Transferred to States for Victim
Assistance and Compensation
(Source: OVC)

}

U.S. DOJ)

Transferred Funds represent
$51 per crime reported, or
$295 per violent crime reported

More than 80% of victims of violent crimes have a low likelihood of receiving services or supports
due to non-reporting

The application process can be difficult for some victims and survivors. Some
states have reported that language barriers prevent many victims and survivors
from accessing compensation (Office for Victims of Crime 2013c). Non-English
speaking victims and survivors may have more difficulty pursuing compensation
claims, especially if multi-lingual staff is not available to assist them.
In the event that victims are eligible to receive compensation, victim
characteristics and the type of crime can affect the amount of compensation
received. Youth and male victims receive lesser amounts of compensation
compared to elderly and female victims (Newmark et al. 2003). Poor and African
American male victims are usually those most in need but are least likely to
receive victim compensation (Smith 2006). The nature of the offense committed

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 11

affects compensation award amounts. Victims of domestic abuse, who are almost
always female, receive the highest amount of victim compensation while assault
victims receive lesser amounts (Newmark et al. 2003). The behavior of victims can
create dilemmas for compensation boards that have to make decisions whether
or not to award financial compensation. In one instance, a Maryland man took a
teenaged boy to his house, gave him alcohol, and attempted a sexual advance.
The boy attacked the man, who later submitted a victim compensation claim. The
compensation board determined that the man did not violate the law with his
sexual advance because at 16, the boy was legally old enough to give consent.
Even though the man gave the boy alcohol, the boy did not attack him as a result
of consuming the alcohol, so the claim was approved (Newmark and Schaffer
2003). The compensation board followed the law in this case, but this example
illustrates the thorny issues officials face in awarding compensation.

administrative
Various administrative issues impede or even preclude victim compensation
payments. The more common administrative problems include delays in claims
processing and unclaimed expenses. In a survey of 452 victims and survivors,
more than one-fourth indicated that delays in processing compensation
claims created problems (Newmark 2004). The primary reason for delays in
compensation payments is that the verification process is lengthy. It takes
considerable time to gather documentation, to ensure that the victim’s crime is
eligible under state law, to confirm that expenses are eligible for compensation,
and to verify that other sources of reimbursement do not exist (Newmark 2004).
Even when their claims are processed, some victims and survivors may receive
less than they are eligible for because they may not realize that certain expenses
are reimbursable through victim compensation.
Another issue is that only five percent of VOCA grants to states are allotted for
administrative funding. Although they find these funds useful, some state officials
believe the amount is insufficient to improve program operations because they
only cover basic costs, such as staff training and office equipment (Newmark et
al. 2003). The lack of administrative funds makes it difficult for states to enhance
their technological infrastructure, a development that could improve service
provision and increase victim access to compensation (Office for Victims of Crime
2013d).
Some state victim compensation offices have difficulty recruiting employees who
are a good fit for the program because diversity is lacking and staff are underpaid
(Office for Victims of Crime 2013d). Staff diversity can benefit interactions
between service personnel and victims. Minority victims may have an easier
time relating to minority service personnel. Understaffing is another problem for
some state agencies. The agency in Indiana responsible for distributing victim
compensation funds has only three staff members -- not nearly enough to meet
the demand of victims and slows the claims filing and payment processes. As
of 2009, the victim compensation agency in Indiana was three years behind on
payments and a majority of claims had not even been processed. The system was
so flawed that the agency had no data on pending applications or payments to
victims (Evans, Alesia and Gillers 2009).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 12

federal and state issues
Financial setbacks at the federal level have made it difficult for victims and
survivors to access financial compensation. In 2012, the federal government
cut $48 million (11%) from VOCA victim assistance grants to states because
Department of Justice administrative costs were taken from the fund (National
Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2013). The result was that VOCA
assistance grants supported several hundred fewer victim service agencies and
nearly 630,000 fewer victims of crime (National Association of VOCA Assistance
Administrators).
The 2013 fiscal year budget increased the annual victim fund by $25 million (S.
Derene, personal communication, May 21, 2014). Presidential proposals sought
to add additional VOCA funds to programs that had previously been funded
through general appropriations, including Violence Against Women STOP grants
($144.5 million), DNA Initiative ($100 million), Missing and Exploited Children ($67
million), Children Exposed to Violence ($23 million), Implementation of the Adam
Walsh Act ($20 million), and Human Trafficking ($10.5 million). Some of these
programs directly benefit victims while others have indirect benefits for victims.
However, Congress did not enact the proposals. Officials worry that use of VOCA
funds for purposes other than direct support of victims and survivors weakens
the integrity and threatens the long-term stability of the Crime Victims Fund
(National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2013).
The FBI receives and administers CVF funds to support 134 victim specialists
across the county. Victim specialists are charged with informing victims about
available services, including compensation programs, support groups, and
mental health counseling (Office of the Inspector General 2013). An audit of
the FBI found that the agency does not have sufficient control over the tracking
and documenting of CVF fund disbursement. Although the audit did not find
evidence of misuse of funds, it did find that nearly $250,000 in CVF transactions
lacked adequate documentation. Also, more than $531,000 in unused CVF funds
remaining at year’s end should have been returned to the FBI Office for Victim
Assistance (OVA) account, according to protocol, but the funds were not returned
and thus were not used to fund victim services. The funds were not recorded in
the FBI’s CVF carryover amount, which meant that the FBI could have received
additional funds in the following fiscal year. Problems with the FBI’s accounting
and reporting could raise questions about CVF misuse and affect the amount of
funds that state and local victim compensation programs receive in the future
(Office of the Inspector General 2013).
Victim compensation funds may not always be used to serve victims and
survivors of crime. The law requires federal funds that remain in the CVF at the
end of a fiscal year be retained in the Fund for victim services in subsequent
years (National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2013). However,
the federal government uses a portion of remaining CVF funds as an “offset”
against spending on other federal programs (S. Derene, personal communication,
May 21, 2014). Just under three billion dollars was deposited into the CVF in the
fiscal year 2012, the most ever in a fiscal year, and states received less than $600
million of these funds to support victims, survivors and victim services (Office for
Victims of Crime 2013a). Suisse Bank was recently ordered to pay $2.8 billion in
fines for helping U.S. citizens evade taxes (Protess and Silver-Greenberg 2014).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 13

Of this amount, $1.3 billion will be deposited into the CVF (S. Derene, personal
communication, May 21, 2014)
States or local entities may sometimes misappropriate victim compensation funds
(Bunn, Maton and Suarez-Martinez 2013). Each state has a pool of federal and
state funds that are to be used to compensate victims of crime, but it is difficult
to ascertain the extent to which these funds, more specifically unclaimed funds
at the end of each fiscal year, are used for victim compensation. If funds remain
at the end of a fiscal year, what happens to them? Are they reapportioned to the
following year’s fund? Are they used to balance budget lines? It is important to
know how states spend, track, and account for victim compensation funds.
Some states are known to have used their victim compensation funds for
purposes other than reimbursing victims and survivors for victimization-related
expenses. In California, state lawmakers moved $80 million from the victim
compensation fund into the state’s general fund. The action reduced the funds
for victim compensation and cost the state an additional $48 million in federal
matching funds, which then reduced the maximum reimbursement amount that
victims and survivors could receive (Foxman 2011).
In Texas, the amount of victim compensation funds decreased from nearly $270
million to less than $9 million between 2000 and 2012. The reduction was the
result of a diversion of funds from victim compensation to other state agencies as
well as declining court fees collected statewide (Ward 2013). Court fees comprise
65 percent of the crime victims fund in Texas (Pinkerton 2010). Additionally,
from 2002 to 2004 state legislators transferred $184 million from the state’s
Crime Victim Compensation Fund to other programs in order to balance the
budget; the reapportioned funds went to foster care, family violence services,
a crime victims institute at Sam Houston State University, and a peace officer
death benefit (Robinson 2004). Texas expected a $16 million deficit in the crime
victim compensation fund in 2013 due to the aforementioned factors and an
overestimation of available funds (Grissom 2012).
Some state compensation programs lack financial and managerial accountability,
which creates problems for victims and survivors. In New Jersey, the Victims of
Crime Compensation office was accused of having inadequate oversight and
improperly compensating victims. In one instance, a victim who filed a claim for
workplace harassment was paid $11,000 more than the maximum compensation
benefit even though the offense was considered ineligible for compensation
(Megerian 2010).
Miscalculation of compensation fund balances causes problems in some states.
In 2012, the three-member California Victim Compensation and Government
Claims Board cut more than $18 million from the fund for crime victims because
of presumed deficits. Officials later realized that the fund contained $29
million more than they initially thought. Different methods of accounting were
responsible for the miscalculation that led officials to believe there was $28.4
million in the fund when in reality the balance was $57.1 million. The problem was
due in part to fund volatility, which is a consequence of the state funding victim
compensation through fees and fines levied on convicted offenders. Also, the
state legislature often uses money from the fund to prevent cuts from other state
budget lines (Miller 2012).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 14

Tennessee experienced a situation involving misplacement of some of its
compensation funds. A juvenile court clerk uncovered more than $100,000 in
lost victim compensation funds that had been sitting in a number of accounts for
about 20 years. A judge ordered the money to be paid to prior victims of juvenile
crime (Bellinger 2011).
Fund shortages and overpayment of victims occurs across the country. Some
states do not have enough financial resources to meet the demands of victims
who request compensation. In 2010, the victim compensation fund in Ohio was
on pace to be depleted because the state paid out $30 million more to victims
than it received between 2005 and 2010. To counteract this and maintain the
fund’s solvency, the state Attorney General cut staff and slashed hourly payments
to lawyers who help victims with compensation applications (Bischoff 2010).

proposed solutions |
Although victim compensation programs have provided millions of victims and
survivors with financial resources and support to enhance recovery, the system
could benefit from improvements that would make compensation more readily
available, improve administrative setbacks, and maximize the resources available
to victims and survivors at the federal and state levels.

victims and survivors
Victims and survivors of crime are responsible for pursuing their own
compensation claims. They must report the crime to law enforcement and file
a compensation claim to meet initial eligibility requirements. However, many
victims do not report crime, and of those who do, some are unaware of the
existence of victim compensation. To remedy the issue of underreporting of
victimization, more research should explore why so many violent crimes are
not reported (Office for Victims of Crime 2013d). Policies could offer incentives
for victims who report crime. Officials in Savannah, Georgia operate a program
called Silent Witness, which offers reward money to those who report crime. The
amount of the reward depends on the quality of the evidence, the severity of the
crime, and the risks involved in reporting the crime (National Crime Prevention
Council 2014).
Enhanced public awareness is necessary to increase victim and survivor access
to victim compensation. Legislating victims’ rights is not enough because
victims eligible for compensation may not even be informed of their right to
receive it. The agencies and officials in charge of victim compensation need
to be responsible for providing this information to victims and survivors and
for notifying them of their rights (Davis and Mulford 2008). A solution to
increase awareness of compensation programs is implementation of statewide
compensation toll-free numbers, which victims could call to seek information
about filing a claim and accessing victim services. Also, states could hire staff
members as “victim liaisons,” which would be similar to the victim specialists that
the FBI employs (Newmark et al. 2003). Washington, DC has created an innovative
method of increasing victim awareness and access to compensation. Most
state compensation programs receive applications digitally or via mail or fax. In
Washington, DC, a compensation program is located within a hospital, which
allows staff to provide immediate information and compensation to victims in

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 15

the form of services, food cards, and transportation vouchers (Office for Victims
of Crime 2013e). Some State Attorney’s offices offer victim-witness services to
help victims navigate the criminal justice process. Criminal justice officials should
bear some responsibility for notifying victims about compensation programs.
Many states require prosecutors to inform victims and more than half the states
require law enforcement officers to notify victims about compensation programs
(Newmark et al. 2003). Internet and mobile technology can be utilized to enhance
and expedite notification and service delivery to victims (Office for Victims of
Crime 2013d).
Other modifications can help improve victim and survivor access to
compensation programs. New Mexico assigns special advocates to victims who
apply for compensation within five days of receiving applications. Advocates
provide personalized assistance throughout the application process (Office for
Victims of Crime 2013e). New Jersey assists victims and survivors with court
costs, which is most helpful for those who must go through the legal system to
access compensation but are unable to afford the costs. For victims who submit
a claim up to $1,000, New Jersey offsets the cost of legal representation for
victim compensation claims, which is deducted from the claim award (Office for
Victims of Crime 2013e). Some compensation claims are denied for any number
of reasons but not all states inform victims of the reasons behind a claims denial.
It would increase transparency and show respect to victims and survivors if
agencies promptly explained to victims why their claims were denied so they
could pursue further legal action (Newmark et al. 2003).
The process of submitting a victim compensation claim may be straightforward
for some and more difficult for others. There may be language barriers
that preclude non-English speaking victims and survivors from accessing
compensation. Many states have staff who can communicate in multiple
languages. However, the state compensation programs that do not have
multi-lingual staff or translators usually need more funding or better accounting
methods to free up funding and account for the potential for language barriers.
Victim demographic characteristics, such as age, race, and socio-economic
status, affect the likelihood that victims and survivors will receive compensation
as well as the amount that they receive if their claims are approved. Outreach
is necessary for informing victims, particularly those who lack resources, about
compensation and the process of accessing it. A study of victims of violent crime
found that outreach and provision of comprehensive services increased the
number of victims who filed compensation claims and attenuated disadvantages
associated with youth, homelessness, and lack of education, which are factors
that traditionally reduce the likelihood that a victim will apply for compensation
(Alvidrez et al. 2008).

administrative
Compensation programs need documentation to substantiate the crime and
the expenses resulting from the victimization. Victims and survivors are usually
responsible for acquiring and submitting the necessary documents. To speed up
the verification process, programs should use proactive approaches to acquire
the necessary documentation to process the compensation claim. For example,
program officials could contact law enforcement and insurance companies

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 16

to attain the necessary documentation directly from them and avoid waiting
for claimants who are often unaccustomed to communicating with agencies
and eliciting documentation (Newmark et al. 2003). Also, coordination and
collaboration between victim compensation program administrators and direct
service providers would help streamline resources to victims and survivors more
efficiently.
States can use very little VOCA money for training and outreach (E. Cronin,
personal communication, May 27, 2014). States need sufficient administrative
funding to focus on advanced activities, including strategic planning,
coordination, technology development, and the creation of operational
manuals. States that have invested in these activities have indicated that they
are very useful (Newmark et al. 2003). Allocating more CVF funds allocated to
administrative tasks could enable the hiring of a larger and more diverse staff that
better reflects the demographics of victims. An adequate staff size is necessary
to handle all the problems and delays that are associated with compensation
claims. Indiana has demonstrated that a small staff results in backlogs and
delays for victims and survivors (Evans, Alesia and Gillers 2009). A study of victim
compensation claims found that claims processing time ranged from less than
one week to more than one year, but 10 weeks is representative of efficient
program operations (Newmark et al. 2003).

federal and state
The federal government controls the amount of VOCA funds that are released to
states each year. For the last nine years, the cap on the amount of VOCA funds
distributed to states has been lower than the amount of funds deposited into the
federal VOCA account in the preceding year. A higher cap would enable states
to use additional VOCA dollars to fund more victim assistance programs that
provide services to victims of crime. The greater allocation of VOCA funds to
states would also allow states to address victims of other types of prevalent crime,
including financial fraud and cyberbullying. In order to meet the needs of all
victims of crime and provide them with adequate services, a $1 billion cap would
be necessary, which is more than $250 million more than the 2014 federal cap on
VOCA funds (National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2013).
In recent years, the cap on VOCA funds has remained constant or increased
slightly. However, the 2008 cap was lower than the cap in each of the previous
five years. Congress could raise the cap a set amount each year, but not too
excessively that the funding level cannot be maintained. As of 2014, there is
nearly $11 billion in the CVF. It is always tempting for the federal government
to use some of these funds for other purposes (e.g., reducing the debt, funding
other programs). To combat this, federal officials could reduce the size of the
fund by allocating more to states or using a portion of the reserves to fund
administrative expenses associated with victim compensation. This would help to
ensure that the fund is not tapped for expenditures that are unrelated to victims
and survivors.
It is important for the federal government to fund programs that address specific
groups of victims (e.g., child abuse victims, female victims of violence, human
trafficking victims) but not at the expense of individual victims and survivors. The
federal government could establish a separate fund for these programs (National
Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators 2013).

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 17

The FBI, which receives VOCA funds to hire victim specialists, has demonstrated
deficiencies in internal controls regarding the use of these funds. A U.S.
Department of Justice audit recommended that the FBI tighten its internal
controls to comply with VOCA regulations and to better track CVF funds
to ensure they are spent properly and unspent funds are transferred to the
appropriate OVC account at year’s end.
A system of enhanced accountability at the state level could improve program
administration and maximize the amount of funds available to assist victims.
Some states have miscalculated or misplaced chunks of their victim compensation
funds due to flawed accounting. State officials may track their compensation
payments, but state legislatures could enhance state accountability by requiring
victim compensation programs to keep organized records and submit annual
or semi-annual reports on the use of compensation funds. This would ensure
that funds are being monitored and used appropriately. All states submit victim
compensation data in the form of annual reports to the federal Office for Victims
of Crime, which then releases it to the public on its website. However, some
states have submitted incomplete reports. This problem could be remedied with
state-level accountability for data reporting.
States need to have systems for managing remaining victim compensation funds
at the end of each year. States could hold onto the excess funds and use them
for victim compensation in subsequent years or could disperse them to counties
that are in need of more funding that year. In Arizona, counties must return
any remaining funds to the state at the end of each fiscal year. The state then
redistributes the funds amongst counties that are in need of additional funds
(Chavez 2012). VOCA grant funds not spent within four years are deobligated and
retured to the CVF (S. Derene, personal communication, May 21, 2014). Returning
unused funds to the CVF could enable the federal government to disperse
additional funds to states experiencing shortages.
Arizona and Colorado are the only states with decentralized systems of victim
compensation. Compensation claims are handled at the local-level. This is
advantageous because it spreads the amount of work across each county rather
than holding one central agency responsible for every compensation claim in
the state. However, it results in some inconsistency across counties in terms of
guidelines and compensation decisions (Chavez 2012).

research
Much of the existing research on victim rights and victim compensation is
outdated. More research is needed to explore current problems with victim
compensation and to gather data with which to guide policymakers and
practitioners. Research must be conducted on victim service issues that traverse
jurisdictions, including the nature and extent of cybercrime and victimizations of
U.S. citizens outside of the country. Many states do not compensate victims of
cybercrime and child pornography and do not have specific provisions for victims
of crime that occurs outside of the U.S. (Office for Victims of Crime 2013d).
Research could assess the fiscal viability of compensating victims of these crimes.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 18

Thorough data collection is necessary for research purposes as well as program
oversight. State compensation programs should continue to collect and report
information on the number of claims that are filed and paid in relation to the
total amount of compensation eligible crimes that are reported in that state. The
states that have ineffectively collected and released this information may need
more staff support, resources, and accountability to submit reliable reports. This
data is necessary to provide consistent indication of the rate at which victims seek
and receive compensation across all states.
Finally, the field of victim compensation would benefit from implementation
and expansion of evidence-based practices and incentives to improve service
quality and delivery. Service standards could improve claims processing and the
amount of time required for claims payments. Program evaluations could provide
essential information to improve victim programs and services. Evaluations of
existing programs and services could yield information about their value through
a calculation of their costs and identification of benefits to victims. The goal of
program evaluations would be to make recommendations for refining existing
victim program practices and informing those that are in development. Utilizing
evidence-based practices could increase the breadth and flexibility of victimrelated laws, policies, and programs (Office for Victims of Crime 2013d).

conclusion |
Victim compensation demonstrates the government’s interest in providing
for victims and survivors of crime who lack other resources to meet financial
needs resulting from crime. Currently, victim compensation funds are comprised
of criminal fees, fines and penalties that are distributed in the form of victim
compensation and victim assistance programs. There is approximately $11
billion in the federal Crime Victims Fund, and a maximum of $745 million will
be expended from the fund in 2014 despite the fact that there are vastly more
victims than those who submit compensation claims and receive payments.
With such a large amount of money in the fund, it remains tempting for federal
legislators to use the funds for non-victim purposes, such as reducing the
national debt or funding other federal programs. Misuse of victim compensation
funds erodes the integrity and longevity of the program. Despite the financial
problems, the system of victim compensation demonstrates respect for victim’s
rights and represents a way to ameliorate the burden that victimization places on
victims and survivors of crime. The federal government should explore options
for gradually spending the $11 billion in a way that is equitable and meets victim
demand but does not create unreasonable expectations.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 19

references |
Alvidrez, Jennifer, Martha Shumway, Alicia Boccellari, Jon Dean Green, Vanessa
Kelly and Gregory Merrill (2008). Reduction of state victim compensation
disparities in disadvantaged crime victims through active outreach and
assistance: A randomized trial. American Journal of Public Health, 98(5),
882–888.
Bellinger, Mark (2011). Crime victims get lost compensation. News Channel 5,
Feb. 15, 2011.
Bischoff, Laura A. (2010). Victims compensation fund is not a ‘piggy bank,’ AG
says. Springfield News-Sun, Apr. 4, 2010.
Bunn, Charlotte, James Maton and Antonio Suarez-Martinez (2013). Corporate
prosecutions for corruption: Compensation to victim states. London, UK:
Lexology.
California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (2012). Annual
report: Fiscal year 2011-2012. Sacramento, CA: Author.
Chavez, Nicole (2012). Crime victims’ aid varies by county. Arizona Daily Star,
Jan. 24, 2012.
Davis, Robert C. and Carrie Mulford (2008). Victim rights and new remedies:
Finally getting victims their due. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice,
24(2), 198-208.
Evans, Tim, Mark Alesia and Heather Gillers (2009). Victims still waiting for help
from state. Indianapolis Star, Jul. 19, 2009.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (2013). Crime in the United States 2012.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation,
Criminal Justice Information Services Division.
Foxman, Adam (2011). Victims restitution cut as state fund faces deficit. VC
Star, Mar. 27, 2011.
Fritsch, Eric J., Tory J. Caeti, Peggy M. Toblowsky and Robert W. Taylor (2004).
Police referrals of crime victims to compensation sources: An empirical
analysis of attitudinal and structural impediments. Police Quarterly, 7(3),
372-393.
Grissom, Brandi (2012). Taking a bite out of crime victim funds. Texas Weekly,
Apr. 27, 2012.
Kansas Attorney General (2012). Crime Victims Compensation Board: Annual
report fiscal year 2012. Topeka, KS: Author.
Langton, Lynn, Marcus Berzofsky, Christopher Krebs and Hope Smiley-McDonald
(2012). Victimizations not reported to the police, 2006-2010. Washington DC:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 20

Megerian, Chris (2010). N.J. crime victims compensation fund leaves families
questioning policies. New Jersey Online, Jan. 30, 2010.
Miller, Jim (2012). State probe: Victims fund had $29 million more. The Press
Enterprise, Aug. 3, 2012.
Missouri Department of Public Safety (2013). Victims of Crime Act grant.
Jefferson City, MO: Author.
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (n.d. a). Crime victim
compensation: Resources for recovery. Alexandria, VA: Author.
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (n.d. b). Program
directory. Alexandria, VA: Author.
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (n.d. c).
Compensation for crime victims. Alexandria, VA: Author.
National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (2011). Facts about
crime victim compensation. Alexandria, VA: Author.
National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (n.d.) VOCA victim
assistance funds desperately needed. Madison, WI: Author.
National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (2013). Victims of
Crime Act (VOCA) Crime Victims Fund: Briefing background 2013. Madison,
WI: Author.
National Center for Victims of Crime (2012). Crime victim compensation.
Washington, DC: Author.
National Crime Prevention Council (2014). Strategy: Crime tip rewards.
Arlington, VA: Author.
Newmark, Lisa C., Judy Bonderman, Barbara Smith and Blaine Liner (2003).
The national evaluation of the state Victims of Crime Act assistance and
compensation programs: Trends and strategies for the future. Washington,
DC: Urban Institute.
Newmark, Lisa C. and Megan Schaffer (2003). Crime victims compensation in
Maryland: Accomplishments and strategies for the future. Washington, DC:
Urban Institute.
Newmark, Lisa C. (2004). Crime victims’ needs and VOCA-funded services:
Findings and recommendations from two national studies. Alexandria, VA:
The Institute for Law and Justice.
Office for Victims of Crime (2013a). Crime Victims Fund. Washington, DC: Office
for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 21

Office for Victims of Crime (2013b). 2012 Victims of Crime Act performance
report. Washington, DC: Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs,
U.S. Department of Justice.
Office for Victims of Crime (2013c). U.S. resource map of crime victim services
and information. Washington, DC: Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice
Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Office for Victims of Crime (2013d). Vision 21: Transforming victim services.
Washington, DC: Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S.
Department of Justice.
Office for Victims of Crime (2013e). 2013 OVC report to the nation: Fiscal
years 2011-2012. Washington, DC: Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice
Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.
Office of the Inspector General (2013). Audit of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation’s accounting and reporting of funds distributed form the
Crime Victims Fund. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
Pinkerton, James (2010). Texas victims fund may require rescuing. Houston
Chronicle, Apr. 10, 2012.
Protess, Ben and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. Credit Suisse pleads guilty in felony
case. Deal Book, May 22, 2014.
Robinson, Clay (2004). Crime victim fund future uncertain. Houston Chronicle,
Apr. 13, 2004.
Smith, Hayden P. (2006). Violent crime and victim compensation: Implications
for social justice. Violence & Victims, 21(3), 307-322.
Trang, Linda (2002). The taxation of crime victim restitution: An unjust penalty on
the victim. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, 35, 1319-1353.
Truman, Jennifer, Lynn Langton and Michael Planty (2013). Criminal
victimization, 2012. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice
Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (2012). Criminal injuries
compensation fund: 2012 annual report. Richmond, VA: Criminal Injuries
Compensation Fund.
Ward, Mike (2013). Report: States should stop diverting money from
crime-victims fund. Statesman, Jan. 9, 2013.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 22

APPENDICES

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 23

Appendix A: Sources of State Victim Compensation Funding
State1
Alabama

Court costs

Offender
fines

Traffic fees

•

•

•

Annual
Approp.

Victim assessment

Alaska

Forgeit annual checks
•

Arizona
Arkansas

•

California

•

•

Colorado

•

•

•

•

Connecticut
D.C.

•

Delware
Florida

Other

•

Halfway house fee

•
•

•

•

•

Georgia

•

Parole/Probation fees

Hawaii

•

Inmate wages

Idaho

•
•

Illinois
Indiana

•

Work release wages

Iowa

•

DUI license fee

Kansas

•

Inmate fee

Kentucky

•

Louisiana

•

Maine

•

Maryland

•

•
•
•

Massachusetts
•

Michigan

•

Minnesota
Mississippi

•

Missouri

•

Inmate wages
Parole/Probation fees

•

Montana
Nebraska

•

Nevada

•

Work release wages
•

New Hampshire

•

New Jersey

•

Bail forfeitures

New Mexico

•

% inmate commissary

•

Inmate wages

•

% inmate commissary

New York
North Carolina
North Dakota

Parole/Probation fees

Ohio

•

Oklahoma

•

Remaining restitution

Oregon

•

% punitive damages

Pennsylvania

•

Rhode Island

•

South Carolina

•

South Dakota

•

Tennessee

•

Texas

•

Utah

•

Vermont

•

% parolee wages

•

West Virginia

•
•

Wisconsin
Wyoming
1

•

•

Virginia
Washington

Legislative approp.

•

All states receive federal VOCA grants

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

Source: National Association for Crime
Victim Compensation Boards (b)

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 24

Appendix B: State Victim Compensation Eligibility Requirements
State

Must Report
Crime within

Must File
Claim within

Alabama

72 hours

1 year

Alaska

5 days

2 years

Arizona

72 hours

2 years

Arkansas

72 hours

1 year

California

Reasonable

3 years

Colorado

72 hours

1 year

Connecticut

5 days

2 years

D.C.

7 days

1 year

Delaware

72 hours

1 year

Florida

72 hours

1 year

Georgia

72 hours

1 year

Hawaii

72 hours

18 months

Idaho

72 hours

1 year

Illinois

72 hours

2 years

Indiana

48 hours

180 days

Iowa

72 hours

2 years

Kansas

72 hours

2 years

Kentucky

48 hours

5 years

Louisiana

72 hours

1 year

Maine

5 days

3 years

Maryland

72 hours

3 years

Massachusetts

5 days

3 years

Michigan

48 hours

1 year

Minnesota

30 days

3 years

Mississippi

72 hours

36 months

Missouri

48 hours

2 years

Montana

72 hours

1 year

Nebraska

72 hours

2 years

Nevada

5 days

1 year

New Hampshire

5 days

1 year

New Jersey

9 months

3 years

New Mexico

30 days

2 years

New York

7 days

1 year

North Carolina

72 hours

2 years

North Dakota

72 hours

1 year

Ohio

No limit

No limit

Oklahoma

72 hours

1 year

Oregon

72 hours

6 months

Pennsylvania

72 hours

2 years

Rhode Island

10 days

3 years

South Carolina

48 hours

180 days

South Dakota

5 days

1 year

Tennessee

48 hours

1 year

Texas

Reasonable

3 years

Utah

No limit

No time limit

Vermont

No set period

No set period

Virginia

5 days

1 year

Washington

1 year

2 years

West Virginia

72 hours

2 years

Wisconsin

5 days

1 year

Wyoming

Reasonable

1 year

1

Who else
can apply1

Cooperate
with Police

No Role in
the Crime

Limit on
Felons

Other authorized persons or those
who incur financial losses
Claimant must cooperate with
police investigations to be eligible
for compensation
Cooperation with police not
specified
Claim may be denied if victim was
involved in the crime or contributed
to their own injury
Claim reduced if victim was
involved in the crime or contributed
to their own injury
Those with prior convictions for
certain felony offenses are ineligible
for compensation for a specified time
Those on felony parole or probation
are ineligible for compensation
Those convicted of a felony after
submitting a claim are inelgible for
compensation

Source: National Association for Crime
Victim Compensation Boards (b)

In addition to victims of crime and their dependents, spouses, and/or parents

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 25

Appendix C: Who determines Victim Compensation Claims in each State
State

Determination Authority

Alabama

Commission rules on claims over $2,000. Executive director rules on claims less than $2,000.

Alaska

Program administrator makes a recommendation to the board, which makes final decisions.

Arizona

County boards determine all claims awards.

Arkansas

Staff, administrator and director make recommendations to the board, which makes decisions.

California

Staff members in victim/witness centers make determinations.

Colorado

Boards in each district make determinations.

Connecticut

Program staff makes final decisions.

D.C.

Program director rules on all claims.

Delware

Program staff rules on claims under $12,500. Board rules on claims greater than $12,500.

Florida

The Division of Victim Services in the Office of the Attorney General makes decisions.

Georgia

The program director makes determinations.

Hawaii

Program staff determines all claims awards.

Idaho

Case manager makes determinations.

Illinois

A panel of 7 judges renders decisions.

Indiana

Program director makes determinations.

Iowa

Compensation director has the final decision on all claims denials.

Kansas

Investigative staff and executive director inform board members, who make final decisions.

Kentucky

Single board members make recommendations and the full board votes on each claim.

Louisiana

The board makes determinations.

Maine

Program director makes recommendations to the board, which decides by unanimous vote.

Maryland

Approval from 3 board members and the Secretary are needed for decisions to be rendered.

Massachusetts

Program staff makes determinations.

Michigan

Claims specialist makes recommendations and program director makes determinations.

Minnesota

Program staff reviews and approves most claims. Board handles claims with eligibility issues.

Mississippi

Program director makes decisions.

Missouri

Program manager, with input from program staff, makes determinations.

Montana

Program staff makes award or denial.

Nebraska

Hearing officer makes determinations.

Nevada

Compensation officer makes most decisions.

New Hampshire

Coordinator makes recommendations to the commission, which makes final determinations.

New Jersey

Claims processors make recommendations to the Victims of Crime Compensation Office.

New Mexico

The board decides payment, but the director approves or denies applications.

New York

Office of Victim Services makes decisions.

North Carolina

Program director rules on claims less than $7,500. Board rules on claims greater than $7,500.

North Dakota

Administrator makes eligibility determinations.

Ohio

Attorney General’s Office makes decisions regarding compensation claims.

Oklahoma

Central staff rules on claims less than $10,000. The board rules on all other claims.

Oregon

Claims examiners make decisions and director or assistant director reivews all decisions.

Pennsylvania

Claims specialists and claims review officers approve claims. Legal counsel review denials.

Rhode Island

Program administrator makes determinations.

South Carolina

Program staff makes determinations.

South Dakota

Program investigator decides claims up to $3,000. Program manager rules on all other claims.

Tennessee

Claims supervisor approves claims. Division of Claims Administration makes final decisions.

Texas

Program staff makes determinations on eligibility and payment.

Utah

Reparations officer makes decisions under the supervision of the director.

Vermont

Compensation manager determines claims and the board reviews determinations.

Virginia

The program director makes final determinations.

Washington

Claims managers make determinations.

West Virginia

Investigator processes claims and a judge reviews and awards or denies claims.

Wisconsin

Claims specialist awards or denies claims. Program director reviews all claims denials.

Wyoming

Program director makes decisions about claims.

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

Source: National Association for Crime
Victim Compensation Boards (b)

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 26

Appendix D: State Victim Compensation Payment Amounts (2012)
State

Total Amount Disbursed for Victim Compensation Awards

Alabama

$2,192,391

Alaska

$2, 192, 391

Arizona

$3,273,068

Arkansas

$4,071,031

California

$69,558,334

Colorado

$13,603,164

Connecticut

$2,780,433

D.C.

$8,770,530

Delware

$3,525,880

Florida

$19,949,504

Georgia

$15,128,079

Hawaii

$611,448

Idaho

$1,477,815

Illinois

$9,131,537

Indiana

$6,505,533

Iowa

$6,188,083

Kansas

$2,917,769

Kentucky

$1,155,741

Louisiana

$1,418,872

Maine

$682,109

Maryland

$2,410,448

Massachusetts

$3,260,116

Michigan

$6,640,197

Minnesota

$2,989,473

Mississippi

$3,565,879

Missouri

$7,226,869

Montana

$1,110,627

Nebraska

$125,009

Nevada

$6,112,639

New Hampshire

$667,130

New Jersey

$10,120,775

New Mexico

$1,543,789

New York

$27,972,032

North Carolina

$8,779,836

North Dakota

$861,896

Ohio

$12,748,985

Oklahoma

$5,227,438

Oregon

$4,649,049

Pennsylvania

$11,503,821

Rhode Island

$1,361,967

South Carolina

$11,771,701

South Dakota

$648,518

Tennessee

$13,190,655

Texas

$70,744,304

Utah

$6,652,690

Vermont

$701,707

Virginia

$4,165,973

Washington

$10,822,561

West Virginia

$3,726,298

Wisconsin

$4,990,437

Wyoming

$1,140,209

JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE / CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK

Source: Office for Victims of Crime (2013c)

RESEARCH & EVALUATION CENTER

PAGE 27

Re sear ch & Eva lu at io n Ce n t e r

A Member of the Research Consortium of
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the City of University of New York
524 West 59th Street, Suite 605BMW | New York, NY 10019
STAY CONNECTED

• www.johnjayresearch.org/rec •
twitter.com/johnjayrec

facebook.com/johnjayrec

youtube.com/johnjayrec

The Research & Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York
(CUNY), is an applied research organization established in 1975 to provide members of the academic
community with opportunities to respond to the research and information needs of justice practitioners in
New York City, New York State, and the nation. As a member of the Research Consortium of John Jay
College, the Center operates under the supervision of the Office for the Advancement of Research (OAR).

 

 

Prison Profiteers - Side
PLN Subscribe Now Ad 450x450
The Habeas Citebook Ineffective Counsel Side