Legal Support for Victim Compensation Funds for Police Violence Victims
22 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2021 Last revised: 1 Aug 2022
Date Written: July 25, 2021
Victim compensation funds (“VCF”) exist to help victims and their families during a traumatic time of crisis. VCFs cover funeral expenses, medical expenses, and mental health treatment at a critical time. Yet to be eligible for victim compensation funds, the victim often must provide a police report that identifies the assailant as the perpetrator and the harmed party as the victim.
When the assailant is a police officer, then victims don’t have police reports that identify them as victims. Instead, law enforcement can identify these witnesses and subjects of violence as contributory in order to protect police officers from liability.
Victim compensation funds should not automatically disqualify victims of police shootings and their families. Legislatures and prosecutors can amend the VCF requirements to allow victims of police violence to apply and be considered for funds. A legally innocent civilian who has been shot by the government is a victim, particularly in a deadly shooting where the government imposed the sentence of death without any process.
This essay provides legal support for extending consideration for VCFs to victims of police use of force. VCFs are capped in amount, and thus are more tangibly helpful for non-deadly use of force compensation where the medical and concomitant bills could be covered by $50,000 or less. VCFs are not a solution to police violence, but they are a pathway to making victims whole who are most likely to be abused without recourse.
Keywords: victim compensation funds, victims, violence, police, use of force
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