Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence) sponsored the House bill (2013-H 5969) on behalf of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo. The legislation calls for emergency compensation for relocation costs not to exceed $2,500. Rhode Island general laws already allow emergency compensation for burials and crime scene cleanup costs.
The House passed the measure in a 70 to 1 floor vote.
To have to relive a violent event every time you walk through the door of your own home is frightening, and no one should have to go through that, Representative Williams said. More importantly, this bill is going to give victims the means to protect themselves and seek shelter from their attackers or those who conspire with their attackers. Its not only going to shield these victims from domestic violence, but gang violence as well. We must help those who cannot help themselves and lend our support to make Rhode Island a safer place to live.
The Crime Victim Compensation Program helps crime victims with costs associated with violent crimes, including medical expenses and loss of earnings up to $25,000. According to the general treasurers office, the state awarded 422 families with 1,300 payments totaling $1.9 million through the program in Fiscal Year 2012.
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violences annual report states that in 2012, more than 3,000 people received a restraining order from Rhode Island family and district courts. More than 900 people were also charged with violating their restraining orders. It is the hope of legislators that strengthening the Crime Victim Compensation Program will lead to a reduction of violence in Rhode Island.
Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) sponsored the Senate companion bill (2013-S 0909), which the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended for passage last week. Senate cosponsors include Senators V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket), Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) and Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and Representatives Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence), Eileen S. Naughton (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) and Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence) cosponsor the House bill, which has been sent to the Senate for consideration.