FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 11, 2019
REPORT: 4 IN 10 TEXANS ARE VICTIMS OF CRIME; 9 OUT OF 10 VIOLENT CRIME VICTIMS DON’T RECEIVE VICTIM COMPENSATION
VICTIMS SUPPORT REFORMS TO PROBATION, WANT REHABILITATION OVER INCARCERATION TO BREAK CYCLE OF CRIME
Findings released as nation observes Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 7-13, 2019
AUSTIN, TX – As National Crime Victims’ Rights Week comes to a close, a new Texas report revealed the many ways crime survivors are impacted by crime, what they need from the criminal justice system to recover and heal, and how state policy can better align with their safety priorities.
The report, “Crime Survivors Speak: Texas Victims’ Experiences with Recovery and Views on Criminal Justice” is the first-of-its-kind conducted in Texas.
According to the report, 4 in 10 Texans have been victims of crime in the past 10 years, with many experiencing trauma, stress, anxiety and fear as a result. Yet, 2 in 3 Texas crime survivors are unaware of the victim compensation program that is designed to support victims and their families with resources to access recovery from those negative impacts. The report also shows that an overwhelming majority of victims support improvements to the probation system. Specifically, they support changes that would hold people accountable without the use of incarceration, to reduce recidivism and break the cycle of crime.
“As we observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, it’s important that we focus on policies that break the cycle of crime and support the needs of crime survivors,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director for Alliance for Safety and Justice. “Crime victims overwhelmingly express that the best way for the probation system to rehabilitate people is by holding them accountable with tools other than incarceration. We will work hand-in-hand with leaders across the state to ensure public safety policies support victims by doing more to stop crime before it happens.”
While 41 percent of Texans have been victims of a crime in the past 10 years, 7 in 10 violent crime victims have been victims more than once. Further, the report shows that victims of violent crime are more likely to be low-income, young and people of color.
In addition to stress, anxiety and fear, many (6 in 10) had trouble sleeping after the incident and more than one-third (36 and 38 percent, respectively) had trouble with school or work, or experienced physical and medical issues after the incident.
“It’s critical that we ensure crime survivors access the resources and support they need to recover after their victimization,” said Aswad Thomas, Managing Director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice (CSSJ). “Survivor advocates want to work with the state to ensure there is an investment in raising awareness and supporting successful applications to victim compensation.”
The state of Texas offers victim compensation to reimburse victims of violent crimes or their family members for funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, lost wages, counseling, relocation, and other costs for victimization if the costs aren’t covered by insurance.
The ASJ study showed that victims support increasing incentives for, and reducing barriers to, rehabilitation and ensuring people sentenced to probation have the tools and incentives to rehabilitate themselves to reduce recidivism.
- About 7 in 10 survivors support strengthening incentives for those sentenced to probation to complete rehabilitative programs, and ensuring that someone’s ability to pay probation fees and fines does not interfere with rehabilitative efforts;
- About 8 in 10 victims support increasing the use of punishments other than jail time for probation violations; and
- More than 8 in 10 victims support changing the way probation is funded so more attention and treatment can be directed to those on probation early on.
The report found that many victims have trouble accessing victims’ services:
- 2 out of every 3 crime victims were unaware of victim compensation;
- Fewer than 1 in 10 victims of violence (9 percent) received victim compensation;
- 6 in 10 violent crime victims were unaware that the State of Texas offers victim compensation; and
- Only 4 in 10 victims of violence who were aware of victim compensation applied for it.
The results of this landmark study of Texas crime victims points to several key recommendations for lawmakers and stakeholders on how the justice system can be changed so there are fewer victims and safer communities. These policy recommendations include the following:
- Increase awareness and access, and reduce barriers to compensation for victims;
- Conduct regular victimization studies in Texas to identify policies that best protect victims, stop the cycle of crime and help survivors recover from victimization;
- Strengthen the probation system to reduce recidivism; and
- Invest in evidence-based services that protect victims and stop the cycle of crime.
Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. We partner with state leaders, advocates and crime survivors to advance policies to replace prison waste with new safety priorities that will help the communities most harmed by crime and violence. For more information visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org/ or follow us on Twitter @SafeandJustUSA