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Mich. expands assistance for crime victims

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A law that takes effect Saturday expands services and financial assistance available to help crime victims under Michigan’s Crime Victim Compensation program.

“This historic expansion in Michigan’s Crime Victim Compensation and the investment in the bipartisan budget I just signed shows our shared commitment to supporting victims across the state,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement released by her office.

Advocates say the new law takes into account the broad sweep of harms suffered by crime victims and provides an overdue boost in funds to help pay for recovery services.

“We now can assist victims who were emotionally, psychologically or mentally injured where prior it was just for those who were physically injured, so this is a great expansion,” said Janine Washburn with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Victim Services.

She said the program helps with large and small expenses that can be burden for victims and their families recovering from a traumatic event or series of events.

“We can provide victims with assistance with burial including grave markers, for loss of earnings if they have to miss time at work due to their injuries, loss of support if the victim is deceased and has dependents,” she said. “We provide assistance with crime scene cleanup. One of our new benefits is transportation, so we can pay for travel to and from doctors’ appointments for our victims. Relocation is another new benefit in case they don’t feel secure and safe where they’re at. Residential security, we can also provide assistance with that, and replacement costs if they have clothing or bedding held as evidence of the crime.”

The new law also expands the amount of financial aid to help with out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance to as much as $45,000. The old limit was $25,000.

The funding comes from court-ordered fines and fees imposed on defendants, and a federal grant.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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