1997-98 Academy Text Supplement
Crime Victim Compensation Statistical Overview
- In 1996, state compensation programs paid approximately $240 million to more than
110,000 victims nationwide. (Office for Victims of Crime. (1997, April 14). "Nation-wide
Analysis, Victims of Crime Act." 1996 Victims of Crime Act Performance Report, State Compensation
Program. Washington, D.C.: Office of Justice Programs,U.S. Department of Justice.)
- The range of total payments among states is considerable, varying generally by the size
of the state. Ten states pay less than $500,000 annually, and about 15 pay more than $3
million. (Data provided by the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, 1997.)
- The states with the two largest programs, California and Texas, pay out nearly one half
of all compensation benefits. California operates the nation's largest program, paying
nearly one third of all compensation benefits nationwide (approximately $75 to $80
million annually). The second largest program, Texas, pays out approximately $20 to $30
million to victims each year. (Ibid.)
- State programs have established limits to the maximum benefits available to victims that
typically range from $10,000 to $25,000, although a few states have lower or higher
- For example, California, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin have
maximum award limits between $40,000 and $50,000. (Ibid.)
- In addition, many states have limits on specific compensable expenses such as funerals and
mental health counseling. New York has unlimited medical coverage, and the state of
Washington has established a $150,000 cap for medical injuries. (Ibid.)
- Nationally, the average amount paid to each victim applying for compensation is $2,000.
- Nationwide, medical fees comprise well over half of the amount of all compensation
awards, and lost wage and support payments comprise the next largest source. (Ibid.)
- In a few states, 20 to 40 percent of awards now pay for counseling expenditures, and
compensation in this area is growing rapidly throughout the country. (Ibid.)
- Of total claims awarded nationwide, 25 to 30 percent of recipients are children 17 years
of age and younger. (Ibid.)
Significant Landmarks in Crime Victim Compensation
- In 1965, California established the nation's first crime victim compensation program.
- In 1975, the International Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards was
- In 1977, the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards was created.
- In 1986, state compensation programs received their first funding from VOCA.
- In 1988, the Office for Victims of Crime began providing funding to the National
Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards to support a range of technical
assistance and national training efforts.
- In 1992, the first joint conference of state compensation and victim assistance
administrators was funded by the Office for Victims of Crime.
- In 1995, with support from the Office for Victims of Crime, a national advisory body
comprised of state compensation programs and representatives of the victim assistance
community established standards for state programs.
- In 1996, the passage of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act required
compensation programs to make crimes involving terrorism compensable, regardless of
where the terrorism occurs around the world.
Outreach and Awareness
The National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB), with support from
the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), developed significant outreach projects to increase
awareness about crime victim compensation support in 1996. The Association developed 30-second television public service announcements and two 10-minute training videotapes: one
directed toward police and service providers, and the other developed for Native American
victims of crime.
Program Standards for Compensation Programs
In 1995 and 1996, members of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards
developed Program Standards for state compensation programs to strive to achieve four overall
- Effective outreach, training and communication
- Expeditious and accurate claims processing
The Program Standards, developed with the support of OVC and through the work of an
Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of compensation programs and victim service
programs, are intended to serve as guidelines for state compensation programs in directing their
program goals for the future. NACVCB hopes that the standards provide program leaders and
staff with a clear picture of what many programs are already doing to fulfill their missions. The
standards should show what is possible and serve as benchmarks for programs that want to gauge
their efforts and chart their progress. Distributed at the 1996 annual conference of NACVCB,
these standards are highlighted below.
Effective Outreach, Training, and Communication
Compensation programs should strive to inform as many victims as possible about compensation
opportunities available to them, and communicate effectively and sensitively with victims and
groups that work with them or on their behalf by:
- Increasing the understanding and awareness of the purpose and availability of
crime victim compensation by providing information to crime victims and the
general public, and by offering training to public and private agencies and
organizations serving crime victims.
- Fostering a mutual understanding among compensation programs and public and
private agencies, organizations, and individuals that work with victims, such as
victim service groups, police, prosecutors, other criminal justice officials, medical
providers, and others.
- Communicating effectively, sensitively, and in a timely manner with victims
through applications, correspondence, and telephone and in-person contact.
Expeditious and Accurate Claims Processing
Programs should ensure that applications are processed as expeditiously, accurately, and
efficiently as possible so that eligible victims may receive financial assistance promptly and in
accordance with the program's mandates and requirements by:
- Establishing and improving processes that ensure the highest efficiency and
productivity in processing applications.
- Training and managing staff to ensure high quality in processing applications.
- Ensuring that applicants are processed consistently and in accordance with
applicable statutes and rules.
Good Decision Making
The goal of compensation programs is to make fair and consistent decisions on all applications
as promptly as possible, in accordance with statutory requirements and in furtherance of the
program's mission to serve victims by:
- Establishing processes to promote expeditious and accurate decision making.
- Notifying victims about decisions in an effective and sensitive manner, and
informing them of their rights to appeal.
- Affording applicants an opportunity to appeal program decisions, and to handle
appeals fairly and expeditiously.
Sound Financial Planning
It is also the goal of compensation programs to ensure that sufficient funds exist for the program
to pay all eligible applicants to the full extent of their compensable costs by:
- Gaining an accurate picture of the program's fiscal condition, and developing
strategies to operate within fiscal constraints.
- Maximizing funding for the program, through whatever sources are available.
- Recovering as much of the program's payouts as possible from offenders and
other responsible parties, through restitution, subrogation, and collateral
- Administering state and federal funds in accordance with all state and federal
requirements and sound accounting principles.
(The above standards were provided by the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards. For
additional information, contact the Association at 703-370-2996)
International Crime Victim Compensation
- The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Public Law 104-132,
mandates that "crimes involving terrorism" become compensable crimes under state crime
victim compensation programs receiving VOCA funds, whether the terrorism occurs in
the United States or in another country. In order to continue receiving VOCA funds,
each state must ensure that a resident or nonresident injured by a crime involving
terrorism occurring within the state or abroad is eligible for compensation. These changes
may be achieved either by amendment to the state compensation statute or an amendment
to the state administrative rules governing state compensation. (Office of General Counsel
(OGC) Recommendations for Bringing State statutes into Compliance with the Requirements of the
Antiterrorism Act under VOCA. Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of
Justice. The new provisions of VOCA pertaining to crimes involving terrorism are located at 42 U.S.C.
10602(b)(6)(B) and (d)(3). Information provided by OVC, June 12, 1997.)
- In 1996, the Office for Victims of Crime conducted a survey of 60 countries and
providences to determine the existence and parameters of crime victim compensation
programs throughout the world. Twenty-six responses were received, 17 of which
described existing programs. An overview of these programs was compiled into the
publication International Crime Victim Compensation Program Directory. (For additional
information contact OVC at 202-307-5983)
The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.