U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Part I: Crime Victim Compensation

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
5 pages
This article presents a summary of the results of an evaluation of State victims’ compensation and assistance programs.
The goal of the study was to examine the efficiency and effectiveness of State programs to offer crime victims assistance financially, emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Information was gathered from State administrators, advocates, and others who provide input on program administration, service providers, and victims who have accessed State programs. Survey methods were also employed, including a phone survey of State compensation and assistance administrators, site visits to 6 States, focus groups with program clients, and phone surveys of more than 450 compensation claimants and almost 600 assistance clients. Results indicate that funding availability from the Crime Victims’ Fund (CVF) varies widely from year to year, but allocations to State compensation programs have steadily increased since 1986, rising 400 percent from 1986 to 2002. Similarly, Federal allocations for victim assistance programs have increased by 850 percent from 1986 to 2003, but tend to vary widely from year to year, with some years experiencing a drop in funding. Caps on allocations, imposed by Congress since 2000, have stabilized assistance allocations but have also resulted in large amounts of funding that are not authorized for allocations. The analysis also brought to light a trend in the past 3 years of a drop in the amount of deposits for victims’ funds; the author speculates that this trend may continue for the next several years, putting a strain on victims’ compensation. The guidelines governing the use of victims’ compensation fund were also examined in this study. Federal compensation funds may be paid to victims for such uses as medical and dental expenses, mental health counseling, funeral and burial costs, economic support, and crime scene clean-up expenses. Compensation for property loss is not allowed under Federal guidelines. State guidelines on compensation vary but tend to include payment for such things as moving expenses, replacement services, travel expenses, rehabilitation services, attorney fees, property loss, and pain and suffering. The analysis revealed that the majority of compensation awards go to victims of violent crimes. The article concludes with recommendations for compensation program development; recommendations include service expansion and protection of funding.

Date Published: July 1, 2003