Victims of crime, such as those of domestic abuse or those who experience the loss of a loved one to gun violence, are often faced with unexpected expenses on top of healing from their trauma. In California, the state has a victim compensation fund to cover expenses such as mental health services or funeral costs, but it is generally offered as the very last option, and all the bureaucratic red tape and requirements become barriers to the communities that could benefit the most from this fund. In fact, according to the criminal justice reform organization Californians for Safety and Justice, less than one in five Californian crime victims report ever having received emotional or financial support.
This sad statistic led Californians for Safety and Justice to launch a new project: Crime Survivors for Safety a Justice, a network of crime survivors who are donating cash grants to the people or the families of those who have been victims of crime.
Instead of relying on law enforcement and state systems that have historically failed to support underprivileged and marginalized communities, Californians for Safety and Justice is distributing $100,000 in grants to eight survivor-led organizations. These organizations will then funnel that money directly to the community members who need it most.
The goal of the project isn’t just to help those who are disenfranchised by the state, but, like Californians for Safety and Justice’s executive director Tinisch Hollins explains, it’s also to “highlight the disparities around victims of color and the lack of access to resources and support they are often faced with, and how many times victims and survivors from our communities are not even seen as crime victims.”
Hollins hopes that this project will demonstrate that the “tough-on-crime approach” overwhelms the communities that are already struggling under other systemic burdens, and instead, what they require is to be “given the resources and support needed to heal and address the harm that’s happened.”
Another advantage to this program is that it is able to respond more quickly than the state to get resources to those in need immediately following a crime.
The $100,000, which comes out of Californians for Safety and Justice’s own budget, will be dispersed to these Californian survivor-led organizations: Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts, Champions in Service, Take a Stand, Kelly’s Angels Foundation, Community Youth Center of San Francisco, Us 4 Us Bay Area, Broken by Violence, and Jr.’s Trauma Care Initiative.