Victims' Compensation Program Helps Victims Through Trauma And Hardship

April 21, 2004

The aftermath of a violent crime may leave victims and their families physically and emotionally traumatized, and with that trauma can come extraordinary bills and financial hardship. Since 1992, the Maine Victims' Compensation Fund has provided victims and families the means to minimize the financial impact of violent crime.

The fund is built from surcharges on criminal fines ($10 for class D and E, $25 for class A, B, C and murder), not State tax dollars. A three-member board, one each from Maine's legal, medical, and victims' services communities, considers applications for payment of unreimbursed expenses resulting from violent crime. Examples of assistance include a headstone for a murdered parent, counseling for a sexually molested child, counseling for family and household members of a murder victim, and counseling for child witnesses of domestic assault.

Payments are capped at $15,000 per claimant. Last year, 209 claims were paid at an average payment of $1,770. Claims must be based upon crimes reported to police.

The Victims' Compensation Fund also provides the funding for forensic examinations by hospital emergency rooms in sexual assault cases. Those awards are capped at $500 per case. Last year, the fund covered 167 such examinations with the average payment being $474

Note: This is the second of four press releases related to National Victims' Rights Week. The schedule for the rest of the week is as follows: 4/22, Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation; 4/23, Civil Rights Teams Project.