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Reparations for Crime Victims 

The Louisiana Crime Victims Reparations Board, which distributed more than $1.3 million to crime victims statewide last fiscal year will consider new applications at its regular public board meeting on Wednesday (Sept. 12).

The monthly meeting of the 10-member board appointed by Gov. Mike Foster begins at 9:30 a.m. on the seventh floor of Wooddale Tower (1885 Wooddale Blvd., Baton Rouge).

A total of 570 victims and claimants received an average of $2,370 from the reparations fund, which includes fines and fees paid by convicted felons and misdemeanor offenders as well as restitution payments and federal grants, according to program manager Bob Wertz.

Victims of any crime -- including spousal abuse, hit-and-run accidents, and innocent bystanders who are hurt during a police chase -- may apply for funding.

The Crime Victims Reparations Program is a "payer of last resort" for "reasonable" medical and prescription expenses, dental bills, mental health counseling, funeral expenses, loss of wages and child care, officials say.

Eligible claimants include anyone who voluntarily pays certain expenses related to the crime on behalf of the victim and immediate family members needing counseling as a result of the death of the victim. Among those who are not eligible are claimants who engaged in illegal activity at the time of the crime, incarcerated offenders, and anyone who had a felony conviction within the last five years.

The crime must be reported to law enforcement within 72 hours after the incident and the reparations application filed within a year of the crime, "unless there is a good reason" why neither report was submitted in a timely manner, according to board guidelines.

The victim and/or claimant must cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

For an application, call the parish sheriff's office in which the crime occurred. The crime must have occurred in Louisiana or must involve a Louisiana resident who became a victim in another state that does not have a crime victim compensation program for which the victim would be eligible. For more information, visit www.cole.state.la.us.

Metro area representatives are Lili Bear, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office, 827-6754; Teri Garcianett, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, 832-2400; and Rosemary Smith of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, 898-2484. Victims may also get an application directly from the Crime Victims Reparations Office by calling (888) 6VICTIM or (225) 925-4437 or by writing to Crime Victims Reparations Board, Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, 1885 Wooddale Blvd. Room 708, Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

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