Compensation refers to payments paid to victims of crime by the government or another entity unrelated to the criminal. The amount of money paid usually reflects the kind and severity of the victim’s damage.
Victims’ needs for rebuilding their lives have been classified as four types:
financial, physical, social, and emotional. In terms of victim compensation, the first two needs overlap because compensation may provide the financial resources necessary to obtain appropriate health and mental health treatment.
A brief history of Victim Compensation Fund
The history of government compensation for the crime victims, dates back to the times of Babylon, the first known criminal law written authority, in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (c. 1775 B.C.).
In the 1800s, the concern over the condition of the victims was a topic of debate during the prison reform movement. Social reformers like Jeremy Bentham and Margery Fry claimed that the government should protect and reimbursed victims. This compensation is due to the government as the victim contributed his role and duties to the given society.
The 20th century revitalized government compensation funds. Thanks to the efforts of Margery Fry’s efforts, that Britain established its compensation fund program in 1964. The first State-sponsored victim compensation fund was established in New Zealand in 1963. Several Australian states and the Canadian provinces put up their programs soon after the British model.
The US’s interest in victim compensation funds stemmed from the liberal political thought of the early sixties that the government should offer security and protection for vulnerable parts of society. Victim concerns and public support for such funds grew as crime rates soared and episodes of violence were increasingly reported by the media.
Horrific event of 9/11 and Victim Compensation Fund
The 9/11 Incident is one of the darkest days in the world’s history and a day that Americans will never forget. On September 11 terrorist attack around 3,00 people were killed. American people felt a collective trauma and loss that affected our lives forever. Shortly after 9/11, the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was established on 11 September by a congressional act, the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act.
Kenneth Feinberg has been designated Special Master of the Fund by Attorney General John Ashcroft. He has established and managed all areas of the program and regulations regulating the administration of the Fund. The legislation allows the fund, including operating and administrative expenditures, to make disbursements of a maximum of $7,375 billion from the United States Government Fund.
Resentment faced by Victim Compensation Fund
The first generation of modern victim compensation by the government was strongly criticized for several reasons. Many people were horrified about the implications linked with social programs. Others found the bureaucratic procedures were also overwhelming. Others believe that benefits are very limited. Criteria for eligibility were stricter than today. There were heated disputes on the legal obligation of the government to reimburse victims or whether it was merely a moral question.
Moreover, the victims face huge barriers to reward from the outset. Only lawyers can obtain legal aid because compensation does not pay court costs.
Many of the victims of compensation programs are unaware of these facilities. In addition, police and judicial staff are not encouraging victims to seek funds. The extensive requirements in filing and documenting discourage their use. Many restrictions limit the applicability of the funds, and even those receiving compensation could receive much less than expected. Many applications are indeed refused because they do not comply with the standards for paperwork.
Despite all these obstacles, the September 11th victim compensation fund is a welcoming and good initiative that must be made better known and more accessible to deserving people. Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP is one of the law firms that is passionately striving to help victims get the health care and financial compensation they deserve.
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