Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, both R-Monmouth, have introduced legislation designed to increase awareness about the state victims compensation fund. Their legislation was introduced in response to an investigation by NJ.com late this summer highlighting issues with the fund.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso have introduced legislation to increase awareness about the state victims compensation fund, following an NJ.com investigation highlighting issues with the fund. (Pixabay)
“What happens to the families left behind is devastating. They are truly victims as well. The money the state has from federal grants and matching funds is clearly being underutilized,” O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) stated. “Many of these families are totally unaware of the services and compensation that they may be eligible for.”
The new bill would require all hospitals and satellite emergency departments in New Jersey to display signs detailing information about the compensation and services the Victims of Crime Compensation Office can provide.
“Reading the NJ.com article was heartbreaking,” DiMaso (R-Monmouth) said. “Our residents send so much money to the federal government with little return. No parent should have to bury their child. Sending back over $380,000 of unspent federal victim assistance grant funding when it is so clear there are families struggling is something we need to correct.”
O’Scanlon and DiMaso’s legislation would further require the Commissioner of Health to work with the Attorney General to develop the signs containing information on the benefits, contact information, and the procedure for filing a victims’ compensation claim. The signs would be posted in English and Spanish.
“The fact that we are not making people aware of these tremendously-needed resources, in the most obvious places, and then sending unspent money back to the federal government, is outrageous. This is a simple action that should have happened a long time ago. The idea of having a loved one die as a result of violent crime, and then being unable to afford to get the closure of burying them should tug at the heart-strings of every decent human being.” O’Scanlon concluded.