MEMPHIS, Tenn. —
$19 million: that's how much money Shelby County crime victims and their families have received from the state over the past five years from the state's victim's compensation fund.
The money is meant to help victims with medical bills, lost wages, or even the cost of a burial.
Advocates believe with crime reaching records highs, $19 million is just a fraction of the cost of crime in our area.
Another day, another crime scene in Memphis in Shelby County. And at every crime scene, there is usually a victim, whose life is impacted. And sometimes forever.
"I was going to check on a piece of rental property one night and someone pulled up and shot nine rounds into my vehicle. Found out it was mistaken identify," said Pastor Ricky Floyd.
Pictures of bullet holes in Pastor Floyd's car mark where he and his car were hit.
"Fortunately out of those nine rounds, only one hit me in the leg," said Floyd.
The Tennessee Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund reimburses victims for money lost due to being a crime victim. It's paid for through court fees. Applicants can receive up to $32,000 per claim.
"It can be victims. It can be relatives of a deceased victim. It could be administrator of an estate or someone who was injured trying to prevent a crime or apprehending criminal," said Shelli King, TN Treasury Department Spokesperson.
According to state records, in Shelby County from 2017 to 2021, 2866 claims were paid totaling just over $19,040,032.
Of those, more than $1,122 Shelby County assault victims were compensated more than $9,038,523.
895 homicide claims were paid totaling more than $5,751,367.
Just over two million - $2,125,498 - was paid to 305 robbery victims.
"When you talk about $19 million, it sounds like a lot of money. But when you look at unfortunately the amount of crime and the people who have been affected by crime in the city of Memphis, that’s a small drop in the bucket," said Floyd.
While the $19 million is a marker, Floyd believes the true cost of crime to our community may be five times that, adding that often, the victims of crime are those who can least afford to be one.
"If you don’t have adequate insurance, you have compounded debt on top of that lack of income you already have. And crime keeps people in a cycle of poverty," said Floyd.
"The criminal injuries compensation program is a fund of last resort for victims of crime. And by last resort, I mean there is no other means to pay for that cost occurred because of the crime," said King.
To be compensated, there are stipulations, like you can't have contributed to the crime, and you also have to agree to cooperate with police. The claim must be filed within a year of the incident. And the incident must have been reported to police within two days of the crime.
"Really the victim needs their documentation and they need to file online. And the online form walks you through what is needed - file, and track progress online," said King.
Floyd said many crime victims don't file for compensation because they don't know its available or don't have resources to file a claim.
"Most of the people who are being affected by these crimes are faced with illiteracy, faced with transportation issues, faced with financial issues, and we’ve almost got to put someone beside them to hold their hands and take them through the process if we want to to really be effective in the communities they need it most," said Floyd.
Floyd said the money may not cover all a victim has lost, but every little bit helps.