They say crime doesn’t pay, but for some Texas nonprofit organizations, something good does come from the fines paid by those who break the law.

The Texas Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund, which is administered by the Office of the Attorney General, has distributed $1 billion in financial assistance to crime victims and their families since its creation in 1979.

The fund derives its money from the fees, court costs and restitution paid by those convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in a state, county or municipal court.

Officials created the fund to help victims of violent crime pay their expenses when they have exhausted all other means of support.

Betty Kay Schlesinger, shelter project manager for Abigail’s Arms, said her agency has received Victims of Crime funding from both the state and federal attorneys general.

“We got $51,777 from the OAG at the state level,” Schlesinger said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “And $31,636 came from the federal OAG.”

Abigail’s Arms — a victim’s support agency which is well on its way to building a family crisis center in Cooke County — also received a combined award of $37,500 from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), she added.

She noted that the money distributed through the Victims of Crime program is used solely to fund the agency’s case management, counseling services, prevention activities, community education and other forms of victim’s assistance.

“The funds do not do anything to support our building. It is all money that is spent directly on staff members who work with victims of violence,” she said.

Although the awards may sound like a lot of money, Schlesinger admitted the funding “represents less than a quarter of our budget.”

“We’re happy that we received the funding and are glad that our government recognizes there is a need to provide services for victims of crime. In addition, we are grateful for all our donations. Without donations, we couldn’t finance our services,” she said.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott said the Victims of Crime Fund is the result of collaborations between several agencies including law enforcement and service providers.

“With $1 billion in awards distributed, the Texas Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund has helped victims and their families get the financial assistance they need to help rebuild their lives,” Abbott wrote. “Together, we will continue working to help crime victims down the path to healing and recovery.”

Since December 2002, the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Division provided more than $500 million from the Fund to help victims pay for medical and out-of-pocket emergency expenses and other costs associated with the crimes committed against them.

In addition to the money distributed from the Compensation to Victims of Crime Fund, the OAG also distributed more than $300 million in grants to nonprofits and victim advocacy organizations since 2002. These state and local organizations provide services such as grief counseling, emergency shelter for abuse victims and other assistance.

To help victims navigate the crime victims’ compensation application process, the Office of the Attorney General provides training to victim advocates, hospitals and law enforcement officials across the state.

The training, along with informational pamphlets and the agency’s Web site, www.texasattorneygeneral.gov, are intended to help victims and their advocates better understand application and payment procedures.

For more information about the Office of the Attorney General’s crime victims program, contact the Crime Victim Services Division at (800) 983-9933.

For information about Abigail’s Arms call 940-665-2873 or visit the agency’s website at www.abigailsarms.org.



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