House Committee holds hearing for Safer Michigan Act

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Victims of crime and their family members are speaking out, encouraging state lawmakers to take action on the “Safer Michigan Act.”

Right now families have 48 hours to report a violent crime to be eligible for the victim’s compensation program, and one year to apply to receive money for therapy, funeral costs, and more. Today victims and family members say it’s just not enough time, and one mother who was denied twice from the program says it’s time for a change.

“I felt re-victimized because I didn’t feel any care any compassion for me being a victim of a mother who lost her son to violence,” said Bernice Ringo, a mother that lost her son.

2 years ago, Ringo applied for crime victim’s compensation after losing her 23-year-old son.

“It would have helped with counseling possibly, it could have helped me relocate to get away from the actual area where I lost my son. It could have helped in many ways I’m sure,” she said.

Today Ringo and many others are advocating for the Safer Michigan Act legislation. 7 house bills that would create programs to prepare those in jail for life outside of prison, expand eligibility for victim compensation, and expand medical leave for victims.

“People need counseling, people need therapy, so having these very short time limits is retraumatizing so many victims across the state and that’s what we need to change,” said Aswad Thomas with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

For some of the bills in the package, lawmakers and victim services say the language is too broad.
“The definitions that were provided for who would apply, for what times of claims that would apply some of those did not connect with back to a Nexis for a crime,” said Angela Povalaitus, from the Michigan Division of Victim Services.

Despite some opposition supporters for the bill call it a happy-medium.
“Even the things they are opposing I love that they are open to the opportunity to further the conversation, and for us to meet in the middle and have a lot of common ground,” said Priscilla Bordayo from Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.

For Ringo, she just wants everyone to recognize the need for help.

“Just give the people the help. The people with trauma from a violent crime, help them. That’s all I say we need help,” said Ringo.

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