For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Contact on behalf of Alliance for Safety and Justice: [email protected]
TEXAS LEGISLATURE PASSES BILL EXPANDING ACCESS TO VICTIM COMPENSATION IN VICTORY FOR TEXAS CRIME SURVIVORS
SB 957 – Bipartisan Legislation that Increases Support for Crime Victims – Passes the House
AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Texas Legislature today passed critical reforms to the state’s victim compensation program, expanding access to the program in a victory for crime survivors and advocates. SB 957 – authored by Senator Judith Zaffirini and sponsored by Rep Krause – passed the Texas House of Representatives with bipartisan support and will reduce barriers to access so that more crime victims can receive assistance through the comprehensive program. The bill will ensure that traumatized victims’ eligibility for compensation isn’t jeopardized or delayed by their unreadiness to speak about the incident while in the midst of recovering in a hospital or in the immediate aftermath of a crime. The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) and its Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network in Texas released the following statements:
“Being a victim of a crime can result in almost unimaginable trauma, and far too many victims are denied compensation because they aren’t ready to talk to law enforcement immediately after a traumatic event,” said Terra Tucker, Texas State Director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “SB 957 helps victims heal and feel safe, while building trust with law enforcement in the recovery process. Today, Texas lawmakers have reaffirmed their commitment to helping victims recover and ending cycles of violence in our communities. We’re grateful to Senator Zaffirini and Representative Krause for their tireless commitment to Texas crime survivors and their work to get this legislation across the finish line.”
“Crime survivors like me know how important victim compensation can be as we try to recover from traumatic and violent incidents,” said Kimesha Coleman, a Dallas-based member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice who experienced domestic abuse. “In the aftermath of a tragedy, it’s hard to think clearly – much less be able to speak to law enforcement as we try to heal from physical or emotional pain. SB 957 ensures that crime victims can access a support system that helps us end cycles of trauma, even if we need a little more time before we can talk about what happened to us. On behalf of Texas crime survivors, I thank the elected officials who supported this bill for standing with us.”
According to a report from the Alliance for Safety and Justice, 6 in 10 violent crime victims were unaware that the state of Texas offers victims compensation. Despite the concerted efforts of the Crime Victim Services Division, fewer than 4 in 10 victims who were aware of the program applied for support, and less than 1 in 10 crime victims ever received victims compensation. With Texas’ victim compensation program providing more comprehensive coverage than many states, SB 957 reduces barriers to better serve survivors, addressing trauma, and making communities safer.
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 46,000 crime survivors, with thousands of members in Texas. For more information, visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.