Advocates call for action on legislation about crime victim compensation fund

NEW YORK (PIX11) — Crimes can tear down families and destroy lives. Often, people look for help, and many community resources are available. One of them is the New York State victim compensation fund. But advocates said applying for it can be an extra burden.

They want to see some changes to the system after the Fair Access to Victim Compensation bill passed the New York State legislature this session with a bipartisan report.

The bill would remove some administrative barriers and expand time frames for reporting.

The next step would be delivering it to the Governor. At a block party on Thursday, speakers called on her to sign it. The advocacy group Common Justice, Not Another Child, and other survivor groups sponsored the event.

The rally is to raise awareness about the victim compensation fund, how it operates, and who receives money.

Oresa Napper-Williams is the founder of Not Another Child. Her son Andrell was outside when he was hit and killed by a stray bullet 17 years ago.

“The goal is to make it easier so it doesn’t re-traumatize people,” she said.

The fund, which comes from state and federal sources, provides some money to individuals and families for medical or funeral expenses, lost wages, and support services.

Victims or survivors would be able to provide as evidence a statement from a certified victim service provider or an order of protection from the court. It removes the law enforcement report requirement. 

In New York City, the organization operates one of the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim service programs in the United States, focusing on violent felonies in adult courts.

Common Justice looks for alternatives to incarceration and describes its policy and organizing work as seeking to build power in Black and brown communities disproportionately impacted by violence.

Chanda Daniels is with Common Justice.

“The people who are marginalized are black people and especially black women. We have to spotlight the disparity,” said Daniels.

Common Justice studied data and found that black and brown New Yorkers are more likely to become victims of violence but less likely to receive victim compensation from the state Office of Victim Services.

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