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Alabama victims compensation commission starts search for executive director


Alabama victims compensation commission starts search for executive director

Feb 08, 2023 | 8:00 am ET
By Ralph Chapoco
Alabama victims compensation commission starts search for executive director
An Alabama state agency compensating crime victims is seeking a new director.

A state victim’s advocacy agency’s first order of business this year is finding a new leader.

The board of the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission spent a couple hours Thursday sifting through candidate applications searching for a new executive director after its most recent leader, Teresa Jones, resigned roughly one month ago. Jones had been a fixture at the Commission since 2012, serving as its leader for roughly 13 months.

“It is simply the case like any agency or organization, you want to have an executive director in place who will be in charge of management for the organization,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, a member of the commission.  “We wanted to make sure we had someone in place to make sure the operations of the agency continued in an efficient manner.”

The Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission, formed in 1984, remunerates crime victims and their families for trauma from violent offenses.

Victims can be compensated for funeral expenses, lost wages, moving expenses and costs associated with medical care, including physical exams associated with crime.

“One thing that I find interesting is that the agency pays for nearly all for the sexual assault forensic exams conducted so that no victim ever pays for one,” said Kim Martin, general counsel for the agency who is currently serving as its executive director.

Commission staff review the claims, which the executive director approves. People can be compensated up to $15,000 for their claims, with higher amounts allocated in cases where people died.

Fines and fees from law violations make up the bulk of revenue for the commission. The primary revenue source for the organization depends on the fines and fees that state government charges to people who have violated laws.

According to the commission’s 2021 annual report, it receives $2 for every moving traffic violation. It also receives money from court costs related to misdemeanor charges or felonies. A second source is victim assessment fees.

The report said the agency collected about $4.5 million in revenues for 2021. About $800,000 were from court fees from cities, another $800,000 from court fees related to the county. Another $760,000 were from victim assessment fees.

It also took in $1.5 million in federal funds.

The Victims Compensation Commission listed expenditures totaling almost $4 million. Of that, roughly $1.15 million were for personal and $500,000 went toward employee benefits. Roughly $1.8 million was allocated to awards for victims.

The commission reviewed 26 applications during its meeting in early February.

“A couple of people are prosecutors or former prosecutors,” Commissioner Darlene Hutchinson said. “They worked with victims, not in this type of work, but have interacted with them.”

Others had backgrounds in social work and education, with a few receiving advanced degrees in the legal field.

Budgeting comprises an integral part of the responsibilities because the job often deals with money.

“I am looking for a strong leader,” Hutchinson said. “We live in challenging times right now. With inflation and everything else, the cost of things are going up, whether it is funerals, medical expenses, relocation for victims in fear of their life. All those are going up, but the fines that are being deposited, that we have access to, are flat or declining in some cases. We need someone who can be innovative.”

The top 8 candidates will be invited for an interview scheduled for later this month with an offer potentially going out later this month or into March.