Treasury, advocates look to expand emergency compensation to include relocation expenses
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo today announced that the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony tomorrow, May 9, on House Bill 5969, a proposal adding relocation expenses to the emergency fund for victims section in the criminal injuries compensation statute.
The proposal calls for emergency compensation for relocation costs not to exceed $2,500. The section already allows for emergency compensation for burial and crime scene clean-up expenses.
"This legislative proposal will change lives, and could quite possibly save them," said Raimondo. "By government coming together to work with community leaders, we are finding solutions to keep families safe."
According to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence's Annual Report, in 2012, 3,044 people received a restraining order from Rhode Island Family and District Courts. More than 900 people were charged with violating a restraining order.
H-5969 was introduced by Rep. Anastasia Williams and is co-sponsored by Speaker Gordon Fox, Rep. Joy Hearn, Rep. Eileen Naughton and Rep. Edith Ajello.
"In the immediate aftermath of a violent crime, victims must deal with so much at once. Easing the burden of relocation costs is something that we can do to support those in need." Williams said. "Whether the event is an act of domestic violence or gang violence, the right thing to do is to help those who cannot help themselves."
S-0909 was introduced by Senator Donna Nesselbush and is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, Sen. Elizabeth Crowley, Sen. Hanna Gallo and Sen. Gayle Goldin. The hearing has not been scheduled yet.
"All of my work is part of my larger commitment to equality for all," said Nesselbush. "I will do my best to get this legislation passed, as it specifically targets those at their most vulnerable time."
"The Treasurer's office is a critical ally and this program is a critical tool in helping to ease the suffering of those in dire circumstances," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Only by working together and raising awareness will we help families stay safe and rebuild their lives."
"If enacted, this legislation will help reduce violence," said Teny Gross, Executive Director of the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence. "This proposal makes government more responsive to victims and will help people sleep at night."
Since 2011, Raimondo's office eliminated a 900-case backlog dating back to 2007. Also, working with legislative and community leaders in 2011, the criminal injuries compensation statute was strengthened by adding crime scene clean-up and increasing the amount paid to support burial expenses.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program helps innocent crime victims with the many costs associated with violent crime. The program may cover expenses related to medical bills and loss of earnings up to $25,000. In Fiscal Year 2012, 422 Rhode Island families were awarded more than 1,300 payments totaling $1.9 million.