Southeast Arkansas crime victims receive $30k in May

Crime victims from Southeast Arkansas received more than $30,000 in reparations from the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparation Board in May, according to Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

The board approved payments totaling $30,116 in six new cases and six supplemental case from Southeast Arkansas.

Victims of violent crime in Arkansas are eligible to receive compensation for unexpected expenses subsequent to the crime, including medical treatment, mental health counseling, lost wages and other expenses.

Reparations are paid for both new cases and also for unexpected expenses in previously submitted cases.

Statewide, the reparations board paid out $303,669 in reparations. Awards were made in 179 new cases, and additional expenses in 14 cases.

The Crime Victims Reparations Fund was established by the legislature in 1987 and it is funded through court costs and fees. A portion of the funding comes from fines assessed on convicted criminals.

Southeast Arkansas Counties where victims received reparation, the number of cases considered and the amount of the reparations are as follows:

• Arkansas County, two new awards and one supplemental award, $18,359.

• Bradley County, one new case and one supplemental award, $1,960.

• Desha County, one new case, $1,380.

• Jefferson County, two new cases and four supplemental awards, $8,420.

While announcing the reparations, McDaniel also announced that he has informed crime victims’ advocates about potential funding issues in fiscal year 2015, which began July 1. Crime victims’ claims are funded both through state appropriations and a federal grant from the Department of Justice. The federal grant for fiscal year 2014 has not yet been received, and it is not expected until sometime in September, McDaniel said in a letter to victim assistance coordinators, hospitals and others.

McDaniel said the fiscal year 2013 federal grant had also been delayed because of last year’s federal budget sequestration. Because of that, the program has relied more heavily on state funds to pay claims, even as state funding has been temporarily reduced. Based on current budget projections, the Crime Victims Reparations Board may be forced to reduce claims or delay payments in the 2015 fiscal year, he said.

“I assure you that my staff and I have been working diligently to prevent a cut in claim payments,” McDaniel said. “At this time, the most effective assistance to the financial health of the program would be the immediate receipt of federal grant funds.”

McDaniel made clear that all claims that have already been submitted by crime victims will be processed and paid normally. The potential funding issue is related only to fiscal year 2015 claims.

McDaniel said victim advocates could contact the state’s Congressional delegation to encourage the delegation to assist in expediting federal grant funding.