Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission gets $1 million from governor’s fund

By: - September 11, 2023 6:01 pm

Everette Johnson listens listens to people speak of Miriam Shehane at an event honoring her work for victims April 13, 2023.

The Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission has received additional state money that gets the agency closer to its original budget request.

The Governor’s Office Emergency Fund gave the commission $1 million earlier this month,augmenting the $1.5 million it received from the Legislature as part of the General Fund budget for the next fiscal year.

“The suffering experienced by violent crime victims often goes beyond that of an immediate physical injury,” said Governor Kay Ivey in a statement. “It continues in the form of psychological and emotional stress. And it continues in the form of financial hardship, with victims having to pay for medical care, loss of work, and sometimes even funeral expenses. As a State, we must do all we can to support Alabama crime victims and their families who are recovering from violent criminal attacks.”

Everette Johnson, executive director of the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission, said the commission was “thrilled” with the money, which will go specifically to victims or their families who have applied for compensation from the commission.

During the summer, the commission requested $2.2 million from the governor to make up for the difference between their original $5 million request and the $1.5 million appropriated to the commission by the Legislature.

The money from the Legislature will pay victims and their families, but also hire additional staff to address the backlog in claims that are plaguing the agency.

As of June, there were about 2,000 claims that are in the queue awaiting action with five specialists working to process the applications.

The Commission has struggled  to pay crime victims and their families in a timely manner, due to drops in their regular sources of revenue and a shortage of staffing. In late February, Faith in Action Alabama, a nonprofit that helps crime victims and their families with applications for compensation, held a protest gathering at the commission’s offices, seeking updates for specific cases related to their clients.

“I think that is good,” said Muaath Al-Khattab, a community organizer with Faith in Action Alabama Montgomery. “Any funds that are going to help them operate more efficiently and be able to tend to the case log of claimants in a timely manner, is always good news.”

Commissioners, along with agency staff, spoke with legislators on numerous occasions to provide details of the financial situation affecting the agency.

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Ralph Chapoco
Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco covers state politics as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. His main responsibility is the criminal justice system in Alabama.