TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg to secure funding for crime victims in New Jersey was approved today by the Senate.
“The Victims of Crime Compensation Office provides compensation to innocent victims of violent crime for some of the expenses they suffer as a result of the crime,” said Senator Weinberg. “This legislation would help to ensure that money intended for innocent victims gets to them and does not become unclaimed property that is confiscated by the state. This is the right thing to do for our residents who are struggling with the emotional and financial injuries of a crime that was committed against them.”
Under current law, restitution payments ordered by a court from a person sentenced to a State correctional facility is collected by the Department of Corrections and placed in a criminal restitution account. When the DOC cannot find a victim who is owed the restitution payment, the payment remains in the account indefinitely. After 10 years, however, funds that are not claimed become “unclaimed property” and escheat to the state. S1521 requires these accumulating funds to be transferred to the Victims of Crime Compensation Office (VCCO) after two years if the claimant has not come forward, and to be used to compensate other victims of crime that can be located.
Under the bill, when a restitution payment is transferred to the VCCO, the DOC also would provide the VCCO with the order of restitution and any other information concerning the identity of the victim. The office would be responsible for maintaining this information and distributing restitution payments to victims who later prove they are owed the payment.
The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 39-0. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.