Crime victim compensation program has paid out $344M since 1982

Treasurer David Lillard attends a State Funding Board meeting in Nashville on Nov. 17, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee has paid out more than $344 million to crime victims since 1982, according to state Treasurer David Lillard’s office.

“This is a fund of last resort,” Lillard said in a release. “One would hope to never be a victim, but we all know bad things do happen. When you have no other means, please know there may be help with this program, as evidenced by the millions of dollars paid out of this fund to victims over the past four decades.”

Here’s the release from the Treasurer’s Office:

Nashville, TN — The Tennessee Department of Treasury’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Program has paid more than $344 million to victims over the past 40 years since the program’s inception in 1982.

During that time, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program has served tens of thousands of innocent victims of violent crimes who had no other means of helping to defray the costs of eligible expenses.

This month, the Tennessee Treasury is joining organizations across the country, April 24 – 30, in recognizing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to raise awareness of victims’ rights, inspire the community, and address unmet needs.

In observation of the week, State Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. wants to increase awareness to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund, which could cover expenses caused by personal injury due to a violent crime, such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of support to financial dependents, mental health counseling, and more.

Money in the fund can even help with expenses incurred while cleaning the scene of the crime, if it occurred in a victim’s home. If the crime results in the death of the victim, the fund can assist remaining dependents with some financial support and can help cover funeral expenses. The Fund does not cover certain ineligible expenses, such as rent or utility bills, travel to doctor appointments, costs from identity theft or fraud, personal property, or any public or private source, including insurance or donations. The money in the fund comes from fines, penalties, and fees paid by criminals to state and federal courts.

The theme for the 2022 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, “Rights, access, equity, for all victims,” spotlights victim service organizations’ best practices to reach all victims and help them forge new healing pathways. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is a time to honor both the individual victims in our community and the groups engaged in building networks of understanding and support.

About 1.6 million people were victims of violent crime in 2020, excluding simple assault, a significant decrease from the year before, according to the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“This is a fund of last resort,” Treasurer Lillard said. “One would hope to never be a victim, but we all know bad things do happen. When you have no other means, please know there may be help with this program, as evidenced by the millions of dollars paid out of this fund to victims over the past four decades.”

Learn more about the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program at treasury.tn.gov/injury. Follow the Tennessee Treasury on Facebook and Twitter to get involved in the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week conversation.