by Jenny Martin, Communications and Media Relations
Julia Spann, Executive Director at SafePlace, recently wrote a letter to the editor in response to the “Don’t pick at crime victims’ fund” editorial in the April 17th edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Here’s what she wrote:
“This editorial recommends that money from the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund not be used by social service agencies to help victims but rather go directly to victims. I recommend an approach that includes both options. Victims of violent crime do need cash assistance to pay for expenses related to crimes committed against them. These funds should also provide for therapeutic services at victim services agencies that would not be available to many victims otherwise. Victim service agencies provide services with greater expertise and at a lower cost than private practitioners. The cost of private counseling in Austin averages $115 per hour; at SafePlace we provide it free to victims of sexual and domestic violence, and it costs the fund less than $50 per hour. Simply put, using some of the fund to allow agencies to help victims is a great deal.”
Some background info: Crime Victims’ Compensation is money specifically allotted for victims of violent crimes. Individuals can apply for financial assistance to help them offset expenses that result from being a victim of crime. Victims of sexual and domestic violence most often use cash assistance to pay medical bills, counseling and other mental health services, and relocation expenses. In order to be eligible, a victim must have a police report or a protective order. The money for the fund comes directly from fines and fees convicted offenders pay to the court. Victim services agencies can apply for money from the fund once the fund’s primary goal of paying individual victims’ expenses has been fulfilled. SafePlace receives money from the fund to help pay for our counseling services and hospital advocacy programs offered free of charge to anyone in need.