Thursday, August 19, 2010

Victim's Compensation in Cold Cases

A bill regarding cold cases and victim's compensation, sponsored by Renny Cushing, was just signed into law in New Hampshire. (Renny is MVFHR's Executive Director and a New Hampshire State Representative.) The law provides that a victim of a crime under investigation by the cold case homicide unit shall be eligible for victim’s compensation, regardless of the date of the crime.

Renny writes with some background about the new law:

Last year the New Hampshire legislature passed a law to set up a cold case homicide unit. The legislation establishing that unit failed to mention victims or the needs of the unique subset of crime victims that is surviving family members of cold case homicides. The unit got up and running last December, and in June made its first arrest in a cold case.

This year I introduced a bill to carve out exceptions to the limitations on our Victim's Assistance Fund to provide that family members of cold cases are eligible to receive up to $25,000 for expenses related to the murder of their loved one. Prior to passage of this law, those family members were ineligible because 1) The victim's comp law did not cover crimes that took place before enactment of the law setting up the fund (1989), and 2) There is a two-year statute of limitations on the time victims have to initiate requests for compensation assistance. Many of the cold cases under investigation took place pre-'89 and in other cases the family did not decide to seek assistance. However, just the process of reinvestigation triggers things in many survivors, revisiting the crime and experiencing retraumatization. This bill recognizes that the impact of crime upon victim-survivors is long term.

It is my understanding that the law that went into effect last week is the first law in the country that specifically recognizes cold case homicide victims under victim's compensation statutes.

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