When someone is the victim of a crime and has to miss work, the state of Florida has a program to help out. The state will also offset the costs of a funeral and grief counseling for people who have been victimized and will handle relocation when someone is fleeing domestic violence.
But Florida won’t provide that help if the victim has a criminal record.
Florida is one of seven states that disqualify someone applying for victim’s aid because of a previous and unrelated offense, The Marshall Project reported last week, and it doesn’t matter how long ago the offense was committed. The other states that deny victim’s aid are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina and Rhode Island.
The Marshall Project – a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system – found that the ban mostly affects black people and their families.
Administrators for victim compensation funds must follow state law, but the criminal justice system is not race-blind, the report says. Of the people who listed their race when applying for victim compensation, 30 percent were black – and 61 percent of crime victims denied state aid were black applicants. The Marshall Project reports:
- Each year nationwide, hundreds of thousands of people apply to state compensation funds. To be eligible for state help – which can range from $10,000 to $200,000 – victims must first have exhausted other resources, such as insurance.
- Certain felonies – such as burglary, aggravated assault, or convictions that are deemed “habitual” – will have a lifetime of consequences for victims of crime.
- The laws denying victim aid to people with criminal records are in place to limit people deemed “undeserving” from getting access to limited funds, the story said, but Florida ended 2017 with a balance of $12 million. The state denied victim’s compensation to more than 1,000 people in 2015 and 2016 just because of their criminal history.
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