Each September the country pauses to honor those whose lives were unlawfully and forcefully taken. September 25th was the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, and every year, it is important to not only pay tribute to the memory of murder victims, but to also recognize the impact this heinous crime has on surviving family members, the victims’ loved ones and our communities and talk about how we can help our communities.
Founded in 1978 by Robert and Charlotte Hullinger after their 19-year-old daughter, Lisa, was murdered, the Day of Remembrance began as a loving memorial to Lisa. Today, the anniversary of Lisa’s death is observed as the Day of Remembrance to honor all victims of murder and their survivors.
In the United States, there are close to 17,000 victims of homicide every year. In California, though the violent crime rate has decreased during the past five years, there are still over 2,000 homicide victims every year.
For every victim, there is a fractured family whose grief never wanes. The ripple effects of murder are profound, destabilizing our neighborhoods and eclipsing our sense of security.
Every Californian should be aware that California has a program that provides help to victims of violent crime and their families. As Chair of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, I know how important it is to provide much-needed assistance to help victims and their families recover emotionally and financially from violent crimes.
Since 1965, the California Victim Compensation Program has paid nearly $1.8 billion to crime victims to help them put back together their shattered lives. The program covers homicide, domestic violence, sexual and physical assault, child abuse, drunk driving and other crimes, and can help with medical, mental health and dental treatment, as well as funeral and burial costs for homicide victims. The program is not funded by taxpayers, but by fines, fees and penalties paid by state and federal criminal offenders.
It is critical that victims of violent crime and their families are aware of the resources that are available to help them along their path to recovery. The Victim Compensation Program’s outreach efforts are a significant resource, and I am extremely proud to serve as Chair of the Board.
On behalf of the Schwarzenegger Administration for the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims, please continue to keep in your memory those who have lost their lives to violent crime.
For more information on the California Victim Compensation Program, call toll-free at 800-777-9229 or visit www.victimcompensation.ca.gov.