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Crime & Justice

California's Victim Compensation Fund helps pay medical, relocation expenses

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Victims of violent crime may need immediate medical or psychiatric care. They may need to move to a new home right away.

The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) helps cover those costs. CalVCP is in the spotlight during California’s Victims’ Rights Month. The program will host a rally near the Capitol on Tuesday.

Executive Director Julie Nauman says CalVCP is a last resort for tens of thousands of crime victims.

"I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come up to me at events and have told me that if it weren’t for this fund, they don’t know how they would have held it together," she said.

Crime victims can claim up to $63,000. They’re also eligible for up to $5,000 for a funeral.

They don’t have to wait for a perpetrator to be convicted to file a claim. The fund administrators can verify a victim’s situation by looking at police reports.   

Nauman says the process averages 40 to 50 days.

In the last fiscal year, 54,000 crime victims got about $70 million total – with a third of the money going to Los Angeles County.

California’s victim’s compensation fund—established in 1965—is the nation’s oldest and the largest. It’s not funded by the state: Perpetrators pay for most of it.  

For many criminal, a sentence includes an order to pay restitution. Jails and prisons collect the money for the fund. That covers most of victims' claims and the fund's operating expenses, while federal funds cover the rest.

In 2008, a state audit found the victims' compensation program was taking in less money and spending more of it administering the fund. The auditors found the board was also taking too long to process claims.

Nauman says she has since fixed both problems.