Robbing the Rich to Feed the Poor?
Posted: 6 Apr 1999
The somewhat provocative title of this essay refers to the possibility that under the Crime Victims Fund administered by United States Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime, victims of federal crimes might go without full compensation for the harm they've suffered, while assets seized from their offenders are channeled to a different group of people altogether: victims of state crimes. Since 1985, over 2 billion dollars in fines, asset forfeitures, and other special assessments -- generated mostly by white collar, corporate crime -- have been deposited into the Crime Victims Fund. This money in turn supports federal courts as well as programs to compensate and assist victims of state law crimes, principally rape, domestic abuse, child abuse, and child sexual abuse. While the recipients of these benefits -- many in under-served rural areas and inner-city neighborhoods -- are clearly deserving of such assistance, this article raises the possibility that some federal crime victims are getting lost in the shuffle. The article explains the circumstances which might give rise to this redistribution from federal to state crime victims. It also proposes modest changes in the language and implementation of the restitution statute to protect federal victims from such losses.
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