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Justice for Victims. Justice for All.
Office for Victims of Crime
2013 OVC Report to the Nation: Fiscal Years 2011-2012 'Transforming Today's Vision into Tomorrow's Reality'
Report to the Nation Home  |  Message From the Director  |  Exhibits

VOCA Compensation: The Stories

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The VOCA Compensation Formula Grant Program helps crime victims cope with financial losses resulting from their victimization. Funds supplement a state's efforts to provide financial assistance and reimbursement to victims for crime-related expenses, including medical and dental care, counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages. Compensation programs may also reimburse victims for other types of expenses related to their victimization, such as travel, temporary lodging, crime scene cleanup, and dependent care.

Compensation reports designate not only the number of claims paid in each crime category, but also how many of these claims involved domestic violence. This victimization was a factor in 54 percent of claims related to stalking and 33 percent of assault-related claims. Altogether, domestic violence was a factor in 21 percent of compensation claims during FYs 2011 and 2012.

Overall, in FYs 2011 and 2012, VOCA state compensation benefits totaling $359,037,000 supported 309,019 victims and survivors of crime as they struggled to cope with their losses and rebuild their lives.


Community Approach to Compensation Works Well in Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia VOCA Compensation Program—the only such program in the Nation whose entire clientele lives in an urban, densely populated, high-crime jurisdiction—ranks in the top third for certified payouts to crime victims. Covering just 68 square miles, it functions more like a community-based program than a state program; while most programs receive applications by mail, fax, or e-mail, the DC VOCA Compensation Program provides personalized assistance to victims at two convenient locations. A satellite office, which is located at a hospital in an area with a high rate of domestic violence, efficiently serves victims who are already onsite for emergency medical care or video-conference protection order hearings. Staff members report that working face to face with victims helps ensure that all those in immediate need receive food cards, transportation vouchers, and additional services in a timely manner. The DC VOCA Compensation Program's high performance level underscores the value of "reaching victims where they are."

New Mexico's Compensation System Designed for Prompt, Personalized Results

The VOCA compensation program at the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparation Commission is structured to provide efficient, knowledgeable guidance when a crime victim applies for compensation. Within 5 days of receiving an application, the program assigns a special advocate to reach out to the victim, review the information, determine whether an emergency award is warranted, and triage additional needs with external agencies, organizations, and advocates. A reparations officer then contacts the victim to explain the compensation process and answer questions. These contacts ensure that before a decision is made about eligibility, at least two program specialists have reached out to the victim to gather essential information, ensure that he or she understands the process, and, through this attention to their needs, assure victims that program staff will do their best for them.

Of Special Interest

  • The Idaho Crime Victims Compensation Program (ICVC), which has collected restitution since 1998, regularly serves as a mentor to other states interested in building their capacity in this area. ICVC collects payments through its Web site; in 2012, the program implemented a monthly billing system. Offenders with outstanding payments due are notified and ordered to make a payment. The program is reporting early success, particularly in collecting large sums from offenders who were not aware they owed restitution.
  • The New Jersey Victims of Crime Compensation Office is helping protect the rights of victims by providing funding for legal representation in court, which ensures that victims' rights are respected in situations where the victim might be overwhelmed by unfamiliar legal requirements and procedures. Many states permit victims to hire an attorney to help them file claims, but the New Jersey compensation program provides for assistance in any legal matter related to the victimization associated with the claim. There is a $1,000 cap for these services; payment is deducted from the maximum claim benefit.
  • The 17th Judicial District Crime Victim Compensation Program in Brighton, Colorado, is almost entirely paperless—increasing efficiency while going green. Files are scanned, queued until they are assigned to victim files, and managed from a central storage drive. Staff members send board members case summaries and relevant documents through an encrypted online document management system. In turn, board members use their district-issued tablets to access the software, review claims, and prepare for monthly board meetings.