Funds available for victims of violence

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

VIDALIA — Victims of violent crimes committed in Concordia Parish may be eligible for up to $10,000 in reimbursement funds through a statewide program.

Unfortunately, many crime victims may not realize the program exists.

“It’s a great program that can help people who need it, but people aren’t really aware of it or don’t know that it’s available,” Concordia Parish Claim Investigator Vernon Stevens said. “It’s an easy process on the part of the victim, and everything is kept confidential.”

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The fund pays for certain out-of-pocket expenses related to the crime that victims couldn’t otherwise pay for themselves.

The Louisiana Legislature established the Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Fund in 1982 to assist victims of violent crime by reimbursing victims for expenses incurred as a result of the crime committed against them.

Stevens said the fund has helped pay for approximately $40,000 in reimbursements in the past two years.

Victims injured in violent crimes such as assault, sexual assault or rape that were committed in Concordia Parish could be eligible for the funding.

“They don’t have to be from Concordia Parish, but the crime has to have been committed in the parish,” Stevens said. “There are other situations like if someone was fleeing from the police and injures someone in the course of running, that would qualify.”

Eligible expenses that can be reimbursed include:

– Medical or dental bills

– Counseling

– Child care for dependent children

– Loss of income

– Funeral expenses for victims who died as a result of the crime against them

Total recovery from the fund may not exceed $10,000 unless the victim suffered total and permanent disability. If a victim has been permanently disabled from the crime, Stevens said they could qualify for up to $25,000. Funeral expenses can be covered up to $6,000 for families of victims of a murder.

Stevens said victims who are convicted felons or were a participant in the crime are not eligible for funding.

Residents who believe they are eligible for funding are encouraged to contact the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office at 318-336-5231.