The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) launched a new effort this week to connect victims of a violent crime with support and services.
By visiting HopeAndHelpIN.org, crime victims and survivors in Indiana can find resources on a variety of topics ranging from domestic violence and sexual assault to human trafficking, with more expected to be added over time.
The website also includes information about programs that provide direct support to victims, such as the Indiana Violent Crime Victim Compensation Program and the state’s sexual assault kit tracking system.
“It can be difficult for crime victims and their families to know where to turn,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “They may be experiencing physical and emotional pain, facing financial hardship or desire legal action. While everyone’s path to recovery is different, this effort is about supporting survivors on their journey and letting them know help is available.”
One of the goals of the new effort is to increase awareness about the Victim Compensation program, which works to help compensate victims (or their dependents), who have suffered physical injury, for certain costs incurred due to violent crime. These costs can include medical bills, lost wages or loss of child support, and funeral and burial expenses.
Pending certain eligibility requirements, claimants can be reimbursed up to $15,000. An additional $5,000 can be used to recoup funeral and burial costs.
“Last year, we processed more than 3,000 violent and sexual assault claims, distributing more than $7.5 million statewide,” said Nolan Jenkins, ICJI Victim Compensation Program Director. “Unfortunately, there are still people in Indiana who don’t know the program exists, which is something we’re working to address.”
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1.2 million people were victims of violent crime (excluding simple assault) in 2019. While this is the most recent data available and the numbers are down from 2018, it is difficult to know the true number of crime victims in the state and nation, as many incidents go unreported each year.
“Violent crime affects far too many families every year,” said Kim Lambert, ICJI Victim Services Division Director. “While no one should have to go through that experience, having access to reliable resources is critical, especially in times of crisis. Our goal is to make it easier for those individuals to find the support they need.”