Monday, September 24, 2012

AG Schmidt announces reorganization of crime victims services

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced a reorganization of crime victims services provided by his office to place a greater emphasis on providing financial support for victims of violent crimes.

Schmidt has restructured the crime victims compensation program, which is part of his office, into a separate division.

The new Division of Crime Victims Compensation will administer the crime victims compensation program, which was established by the legislature in 1978.

Prior to the reorganization, the compensation program was embedded in the broader Victims’ Services Division in the attorney general’s office.

“This revised structure will help ensure that the crime victims compensation program is operated with maximum efficiency and is in a stronger position to provide support to Kansans who are victims of violent crime,” Schmidt said. “It will ensure that the members of the Crime Victims Compensation Board can focus on the critical job of evaluating claims for assistance and supporting crime victims rather than on the day-to-day operations of the office.”

The crime victims compensation program provides financial assistance for victims of crime for out-of-pocket medical expenses, loss of earnings or support, burial expenses, and other costs associated with treatment of injuries sustained as a result of being a victim of violent crime.

During state fiscal year 2011, the compensation program provided nearly $4 million in support to crime victims.

The funding comes from federal Victims of Crime Act grant funds, a portion of court fines and fees, court-ordered restitution, and fees collected from offenders in prison and not from taxpayers.

The compensation program’s work is overseen by the three-member Crime Victims Compensation Board. Current members are Suzanne Valdez, Lawrence, chair; Nan Porter, Wichita; and Sheriff Tom Williams, Iola.

“Through this reorganization, the Board looks forward to a more cohesive and collaborative working relationship with the Attorney General’s Office,” Valdez said. “As always, we feel very fortunate through our service on the Board to be able to provide compensation to victims who have suffered due to violent crime.”

The new division will be led by Jeff Wagaman, who previously served as deputy chief of staff for the attorney general’s office and as Schmidt’s spokesman. Schmidt said he would announce a new spokesman in the coming days.

The reorganized Division of Crime Victims Compensation is located in Room 612 of the Landon State Office Building, 900 SW Jackson St., Topeka. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-428-8436.