APwv 08/25 1215 Victims' Fund
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia's five-year-old crime victims'
fund, which once boasted a $2 million surplus, is nearly broke, state
The fund, which has paid out more than $1 million in the past three months,
had a bank balance of $78,585.96 as of Monday, the state auditor's office said.
The fund, which was set up to provide innocent victims of crimes with some
monetary assistance, is financed by a $3 fee on criminal court cases. State
officials expected it to be self-sustaining. The fees produced $527,614
in the last fiscal year.
The West Virginia Court of Claims, a three-judge panel appointed by the
Legislature, administers the fund. Until last year, no awards could be
made to victims of crimes unless they were appoved by the Legislature.
But a change in the law this year permits direct, immediate payments for
victims' actual economic costs such as medical bills or lost wages.
Becky A. O'Fiesh, deputy clerk for the fund, said more than $310,000 was
paid last month as a result of the changes in the statute.
More than $150,000 in recommended awards are awaiting review by the Court
of Claims and another $100,000 in approved claims for non-economic loss
are awaiting final action by the 1988 Legislature, she said.
The fund in July approved payments to eight health care providers in the
officials said. Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada spent several months last
year recovering from an assault by a devotee.
The Court of Claim
The fund began payments to innocent crime victims in 1982 and awards
totaling $78,191.66 were approved that year. In 1983, the awards
totaled $150,395, and in 1984 they climbed to $182,656.
State Treasurer A. James Manchin started a campaign two years ago
to make state residents more aware of the fund, and in 1985 a large
backlog of claims was settled.
The 1986 Legislature approved $529,478 during its regular session and
then at a subsequent special session OK'd payment of another $1,232,752