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Financial Assistance 7


Recommendation

Texas should use the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund for victims of terrorism.


Summary

The Texas Crime Victims' Compensation Fund (the Fund) is available to aid those affected by terrorist attacks. The Fund is an account in the General Revenue Fund. The Fund only takes effect when all other avenues of compensation have been exhausted and the victim has completed and been approved by the application process.

To qualify for compensation, an individual must be a U.S. resident who is the victim of a crime committed in Texas, or the individual must be a Texas resident in another state or country that does not have crime victims' compensation benefits for which the victim would be eligible.[1]

It is possible for the Fund to provide relief for Texas victims of the New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. terrorist attacks as well as possible future attacks. However, the states of New York and Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., have crime victims funds which should cover Texans injured in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. As in Texas, the New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. funds are payers of last resort.[2] Terrorism qualifies as a crime covered by the Fund since such acts constitute criminally injurious conduct as defined by article 56.32 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

As of August 31, 2001, the Fund held approximately $287 million. In 2002, the Fund will dispense about $130 million, both to various state agencies, groups and crime victims. That same year roughly $87 million will go into the Fund from several sources, including court fees and restitution. In 2003, the Fund will dispense $137 million and gain roughly $86 million.[3]


Fiscal Impact

This recommendation would have no significant fiscal impact to the state.


[1] TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. §56.32.

[2] U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, “Crime Victim Compensation: An Overview”: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/help/compdir/overview.htm.

[3] Telephone interview with Leslie Collier, accounting manager, Crime Victims’ Services Division, Texas Office of the Attorney General, Austin, Texas, September 17, 2001.