The Department of Crime Victim Compensation has paid up to $4,000 for funerals of homicide victims since 1996. The office is now increasing benefits for victims.
The deputy director for Crime Victim Services explained why a program like this is needed. “Historically, not just in South Carolina but across the country, victims are often ignored in the criminal justice system,” said Burke Fitzpatrick.
South Carolina lawmakers want to make sure victims aren’t forgotten. Since 1996, the Department of Crime Victim Compensation has paid families of homicide victims $4,000 to bury their loved ones. The department says that amount no longer covers needs.
The deputy director of the department explained, “We did a survey across South Carolina and found the average burial costs were around $7,000.”
The department will now offer up to $6,500 to cover growing expenses. The money is generated by criminal offenders. Beard added, “Part of what we do is collect fine and fees from offenders in court as well as restitution and we put it in a pot and that money goes towards these funerals.”
The department works with county solicitors to identify the families. The victim must be a homicide victim in South Carolina and not involved in illegal activity leading to their death.
Last fiscal year, the department paid for the burial and funeral expenses for 344 homicide victims, including 25 in Spartanburg County and 24 in Greenville County.