Leader Shekarchi and Sen. Gallo’s bill expanding support for minor witnesses of homicide and domestic violence now law
STATE HOUSE - A bill which expands the State's Crime Victim Compensation Program to include support for minors who witness homicides or domestic violence, has been signed into law today by Governor Gina Raimondo, during a ceremonial signing ceremony at the Rhode Island State House.
The legislation, which was sponsored by House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) and Senator Hanna Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick), who serves as Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Education, passed both chambers with unanimous support.
"This bill will take better care of our children, because they are innocent victims too. It will help families gain access to supportive services for these children whose critical needs will no longer go unrecognized or unaddressed," said Leader Shekarchi.
"When children witness a domestic violence incident or a homicide, the psychological scars are deep and lasting. It is right and decent that the program established to serve crime victims also defray costs associated with the healing process for children in these cases," said Chairwoman Gallo.
"I am grateful to everyone who has played a role in expanding Treasury's Crime Victim Compensation Program to include support for the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders", said Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "Children in Rhode Island are estimated to be present at over a third of domestic violence arrests. This bill recognizes that these children are, without doubt, victims of the crime they witnessed - and removes an unnecessary hurdle to those children getting the care they need."
Parents and guardians are now able to apply to Rhode Island's Crime Victim Compensation Program for reimbursement for expenses related to psychiatric care and mental health counseling up to $1,500 per minor victim - bringing the amount available for psychiatric care and mental health counseling in line with adult victims.
"This expansion of Rhode Island's Crime Victim Compensation Program will enable more young victims of violence to access essential mental health care, helping to break the intergenerational cycle of violence," said Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
More than twenty states allow minors to seek compensation from their state crime victim compensation program.
Approximately 60 percent of Crime Victim Compensation Program compensation costs are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, with the balance typically covered by fees recovered by the Rhode Island Court System. The new law is not expected to have a material impact on general revenue expenditures.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903