TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Ellen Karcher and Loretta Weinberg which would create the Victims of Crime Compensation Agency (VCCA) within the Department of the Treasury was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.
“Helping victims of violent crime must be this agency’s priority,” said Senator Karcher, D-Mercer and Monmouth. “In the past, the Victims of Crime Compensation Board was used as more of a political patronage spot than a relief board. This legislation would work to make sure that victims of crime receive the funding and support they need to allow them to move forward.”
“Today’s vote puts New Jersey’s victims of violent crime one step closer to receiving financial the support they need,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “By making the majority of the agency’s positions unpaid, the State would be freeing up hundreds of thousands of dollars each year that can be put to use benefiting victims.”
The Senators’ bill, S-218, would establish the VCCA to financially compensate victims of violent crime for expenses they suffer as a result of the crime. The new agency would replace the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) and transfer its duties to the VCCA. The bill would also establish a Victims of Crime Compensation Review board, to review appeals and decisions of the VCCA, and if necessary, award supplemental compensation to victims.
The VCCA would be comprised of five unpaid members, each being appointed to a three-year term. Currently, the members of the Victims of Crime Compensation Board receive salaries of $110,000 and are eligible for tenure after serving 10 years.
“Currently, the VCCB is running out of money, which means that before long, it would have to dip into the funds reserved for victims to cover the salaries and operating costs of the membership,” said Senator Karcher. “This legislation would work to make sure that the victims receive all of the money allocated to them under the VCCB’s budget.”
According to the State Department of Legislative Services, by revamping the VCCA to make the Board positions unpaid, the State would save $447,000 a year, said Senator Weinberg.
This legislation was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 14. The Assembly is expected to give the bill final legislative approval during today’s voting session.