Every state has a victim compensation fund that provides financial relief to victims of crime who have no other way to pay for medical expenses, funeral costs, crime scene cleanup, or other costs associated with the crime. States impose their own eligibility requirements to determine which victims can receive funding. Six states prohibit victims with certain criminal histories from obtaining compensation. This means that innocent victims of crime are left with nowhere to turn because of something that they already “paid” for. This leaves victims, who are likely already in a financially precarious situation due to their felon status, with no way to pay for their bills. To make matters worse, the bans disproportionately affect Black victims who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Despite this negative impact, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the victims will not find any redress in the law. In fact, Congress has enacted legislation that negatively affects individuals with a criminal history, despite the disproportionate negative impact on Black individuals.
This Note suggests that Congress enact legislation prohibiting states receiving federal funding for their compensation funds from disqualifying victims based on their criminal history. Additionally, this Note encourages the six states with a criminal history ban to change their legislation and redefine “victim.”