FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2021
Contact: Julien Martinez, 347.229.2517, [email protected]
SB 36 Reduces Barriers to Ohio’s Victim Compensation Program, Providing Critical Services to Help Survivors Recover After a Crime
COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Senate today passed critical reforms to the state’s crime victim compensation program, reducing excessive barriers to recovery services that promote healing and recovery from crimes. The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and its Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network in Ohio, which have advocated for the legislation for more than two years, applaud Senate leaders for the bill’s passage.
“Today’s passage of SB 36 reaffirms Ohio’s commitment to supporting crime victims in their recovery, and promoting public safety across the state,” said Shakyra Diaz, Ohio State Director for the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Survivors need access to support, not to be placed on trial and have their victimization ignored or exacerbated. This bill is a crucial step towards lifting barriers that stigmatize victims and block them from getting the help they need. We thank members of the Senate Judiciary, bill sponsors, Chair Manning, and former Senator Peggy Lehner for championing these life-changing reforms, and for working to make Ohio safer and more just.”
The bill expands victim compensation coverage for immediate family members of certain crime victims, and removes restrictions based on an old felony conviction – from as far back as 10 years ago – unrelated to a person or their family member’s victimization. The bill also eliminates barriers to victims based on a mere allegation that they may have committed a crime in the past – regardless of if they were ever convicted. In addition, family members of victims who are killed cannot be denied compensation based on allegations regarding the victim’s actions. Family members who lose a loved one to a tragic act of violence are always victims themselves, and must be able to bury their loved ones with dignity and have the resources they need to heal. SB 36 ensures that more crime victims receive the financial and emotional support needed to address trauma as a result of a crime, allowing for families and communities to heal and stop cycles of violence.
“After the love of my life was murdered in 2007, our family’s grief was compounded by a denial of victim compensation because he had a minor felony charge as a teenager. Today, I’m hopeful that families like mine will no longer be barred from receiving assistance that can help us recover and heal,” said India Brown, Ohio member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “Only by addressing the trauma of violent crime and the ripple effects it has throughout our lives can we end the cycle of harm it creates. SB 36 offers survivors and victims’ families a seat at the table, and I have no doubt that these reforms will help our communities be safer, heal, and thrive.”
SB 36 also addresses an issue that has allowed crime victims with drugs in their system to be denied support, without requiring any understanding of the circumstances. The Dayton Daily News has reported multiple instances where a victim of crime was denied assistance because they had a controlled substance in their system at the time of their victimization, despite not being charged with any crime. It was reported that one woman shot in the Oregon District shooting was denied support after methamphetamines were found in her blood at the hospital, even though she indicated having an Adderall prescription.
“Anyone who has been hurt by crime, especially a violent crime like assault, attempted murder,
or the murder of a loved one, will need support recovering from the experience. That is why today’s passage of SB 36 is so important – it prevents the sort of re-victimization that can lead to lives spiraling out of control,” said Stephen Massey, director of operations of the CitiLookout Trauma Recovery Center in Springfield. “Ohio’s trauma recovery centers offer a holistic range of services that help victims heal, but unnecessarily excluding victims from a large portion of this support system actually makes our communities less safe. We should be proud of being a national leader in supporting trauma recovery centers, and today we should be hopeful that the most vulnerable will receive the support they need to heal.”
“I’ve worked with hundreds of crime victims, and many of them have experienced prior trauma with little to no support. The last thing crime victims need when they are at the most vulnerable time of their life are barriers and humiliation,” said Brenda Glass, founder and executive director of the Brenda Glass Trauma Center. “Crime victims often experience mental health challenges, substance abuse, housing instability, disruption in employment, re-victimization and contact with the justice system. SB 36 removes these barriers to their healing journey, and can help crime victims avoid these challenges. The Ohio Senate today has done the right thing by addressing the pain that so many have experienced, and help them heal financially, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Ohio is the only state in the country that denies compensation to a victim and their family based on a mere suspicion that the victims or applicant committed a felony in the past ten years, even if never charged with a crime. Ohio is also one of only seven states that denies compensation based on a past criminal conviction, even after the victim or applicant has served their time, and one of only 10 states that bar victims who are on probation or parole.
The Alliance for Safety and Justice has been advocating for reforms to Ohio’s victim compensation program since August 2018. ASJ has also worked alongside state leaders to establish trauma recovery centers that provide wraparound services to victims of violent crime. SB 36 – passed with bipartisan support – is sponsored by Chair Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, and supported by former Senator Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, who has sponsored previous versions of this legislation. These efforts reaffirm Ohio’s reputation as a national leader in helping underserved crime survivors better access recovery support.
The full text of the bill can be viewed here.
About the Alliance for Safety and Justice
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 42,000 crime survivors with thousands of members in Ohio. For more information, visit: https://