Florida One of the Stingiest States for Compensating Victims of Violent Crime
New Report Analyzing Federal and State Victim Comp. Funds Reveals Paltry $295 National Avg. Payout to Victims, While Florida Pays a Mere $212
While $11 billion intended for crime victims languishes in federal bank accounts instead of being distributed to states to reimburse crime victims and survivors for costs such as medical expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages and funerals, Florida has an abysmal record for doling it out if and when the money finally trickles down to a more local level.
A newly released report on crime victim compensation funds, commissioned by Justice Fellowship, the criminal justice reform and advocacy affiliate of Prison Fellowship Ministries, uncovers that Florida is not good to its crime victims:
While states pay an average of a paltry $295 per victim, victims of violent crime in Florida are paid a meager $212—the 12th-lowest payout in the nation. (View the list of "14 Stingiest States for Victims of Violent Crime.")
Florida victims must report their crime within a brief 72 hours and must file a claim within a year, or they forfeit their right to be compensated.
Report findings on a national level and for an average of all states are nearly as bleak:
Of the more than 7 million victims of violent crime reported every year, only 200,000 receive assistance from a compensation fund on average (less than 3 percent).
The federal Crime Victims Fund (CVF) has a current balance of $11 billion, and some states have as much as $10 million unspent on the victims for which the funds are intended).
The federal government has used some CVF funds as an “offset” against spending on other federal programs, and some states have used their funds to balance the state budget or for purposes other than reimbursing victims and survivors.
Congress has capped total CVF spending for victims at $745 million, despite the needs of victims and the large federal surplus, and many states pay an average of $250 or less per reported violent crime.
“Florida's status as 12th worst in the nation in average compensation paid to victims and survivors of violent crime is very troubling.These funds are meant for important services to help them rebound from their victimization, but things aren't so funny for crime victims in The Sunshine State,” said Justice Fellowship President Craig DeRoche. “Justice Fellowship advocates for a restorative justice approach to criminal justice that prioritizes and affirms victims. This report clearly highlights that victims are not a priority in Florida.”
The report, developed by the Research & Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, exposes a variety of ills plaguing our nation’s victim compensation system and offers practical reforms to help victims and survivors tap into the funds intended for them.
Prison Fellowship Ministries was founded in 1976 by the late Chuck Colson and today is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. Through Justice Fellowship, it promotes a restorative justice approach to criminal justice that respects victims, rehabilitates offenders and repairs communities.