MIL-OSI USA: News 03/12/2024 PASSED: Blackburn, Cornyn, Colleagues’ Bill to Ensure Crime Victims’ Representatives Receive Restitution

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joined Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and colleagues in releasing statements following the Senate passage of their bipartisan Victims’ Voices Outside and Inside the Courtroom Effectiveness (Victims’ VOICES) Act, which would ensure family members, legal guardians, and those appointed by the court who act on behalf of a victim during certain criminal court case proceedings receive restitution from convicted defendants for costs like transportation, lost income, and childcare that they incur.

“Under federal law, those convicted of certain crimes are required to pay restitution to their victims – helping cover necessary expenses such as medical care. However, that is not the case for a person assuming the rights of a victim who is a minor, deceased or unable to act for themselves. This is important legislation to ensure all victims receive the justice they deserve,” said Senator Blackburn.

“Family members of violent crime victims, including children and those who have died, should be reimbursed for the financial burden they take on to achieve justice for their loved ones. This legislation would make victims’ representatives whole by ensuring they receive restitution from convicted criminals, and I urge my colleagues in the House to pass it without delay,” said Senator Cornyn.

BACKGROUND:

  • The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, which was signed into law in 1996, requires defendants convicted of certain crimes, including violent crimes, to pay restitution to their victims. The restitution can cover a number of costs, including transportation, lost income, and childcare costs incurred while participating in the investigation or prosecution of the offense as well as medical and nonmedical care and treatment and associated costs. In the case of a victim who is a minor, deceased, incapacitated, or otherwise not capable of acting on his or her own behalf, a family member, legal guardian, or a person appointed by the court may “assume” the victim’s rights.
  • In many jurisdictions, individuals acting on a victim’s behalf have been precluded from receiving restitution for their own lost income, transportation, childcare, and other costs. This imposes a significant hardship on the victim’s representative and a barrier to vindicating the victim’s rights. The Victims’ VOICES Act would amend existing law to clarify that a person who acts on behalf of a victim is eligible to receive restitution for the expenses associated with participating in the investigation or prosecution of the offense, attending related court proceedings, or transporting a victim to receive medical, therapy, rehabilitation, or other services.
  • This legislation is endorsed by the National District Attorneys Association, Raven, National Children’s Alliance, Major County Sheriffs of America, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), National Native American Law Enforcement Association, and the National Organization for Victim Advocacy (NOVA).

CO-SPONSORS:

  • The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
  • Representative Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The full text of the legislation is here.

MIL OSI USA News