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Examining Equity in State Victim Compensation Programs: A Multilevel Analysis

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $550,000)

Statement of the Problem Crime victimization is a pernicious social problem: in 2019, Americans reported 5.8 million violent crimes and another 12.8 million property crimes. Victimization can result in overwhelming expenses, including medical, mental health, or funeral costs, placing a large burden on victims. As such, victim compensation, which provides direct financial assistance to victims, can be a critical resource. While some research suggests that compensation is not distributed equitably across victim populations, studies are limited and the field lacks data-driven strategies to advance equity. The proposed research will address this gap in knowledge by examining how national, state, and local contexts influence the distribution of state victim compensation funds, and the extent to which equity is achieved for victims across multiple dimensions, including race, gender, geographic location, and type of crime. Subjects The subjects of this study are state and territory victim compensation programs and program staff, as well as key stakeholders, service providers, and survivors in two states. Partnerships The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has partnered with two state victim compensation programs and five advisors, who bring interdisciplinary research and practice expertise to the project. Research Design and Methods Drawing from social-ecological theory, the proposed study will examine equity in the distribution of compensation funds at the national, state, and local levels. In-depth analyses will be conducted on a sample of two states and 10 cities within those states. The following research activities will be completed: (1) a national assessment of the financial health of state victim compensation programs, using survey and administrative data; (2) a mixed method evaluation of how victim compensation is distributed to counties; and (3) an evaluation of who receives compensation, including analysis of how community and individual characteristics shape the allocation of victim compensation, and perspectives of survivors who have applied for compensation. Analysis Statistical analysis of survey and administrative data will be conducted to assess victim compensation claim outcomes and the extent to which these outcomes vary between places and types of victims; between- and within-state comparisons will be made. Qualitative information will be analyzed to provide context for statistical results. Products, Reporting, and Data Archiving CSG Justice Center research staff will disseminate study results to a broad audience of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners through presentations at conference(s) and webinar(s); strategic briefings; and a peer-reviewed journal article. CSG communications staff will publicize project products via a marketing campaign.

Date Created: September 30, 2021