AB 160 Expands Eligibility Criteria and Eases Financial Burden Faced by Victims in Aftermath of Harm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed into law AB 160, a budget trailer bill containing sweeping investments in ensuring all survivors of crime have access to the resources they need to heal. 

The bill, which incorporates many of the components of SB 993, introduced earlier this year by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), does several key things to expand the number of survivors eligible to access the state’s victim compensation program and ease the financial burden faced by survivors in the aftermath of harm having occurred, including increasing caps on reimbursable expenses and expanding eligibility for loss of income reimbursement. 

Under the bill, the overall cap for reimbursement would increase to $100,000, with caps on funeral and burial expenses increasing to $20,000, the cap on relocation expenses increasing to $7,500 and the cap on counseling costs being eliminated entirely. 

The bill also makes major changes to loss of income and support coverage, including allowing for reimbursement for loss of income and support even if the victim was unemployed at the time, making all secondary victims eligible for bereavement loss of income and allowing more types of documentation to verify income loss. 

The bill also makes all survivors of crime eligible for victim compensation regardless of whether a person is on probation or parole.

The signing of AB 160 into law by Gov. Newsom comes just several months after the governor signed AB 200, another budget trailer bill that contains $50 million to fund a first-of-its-kind-in-the-nation program providing direct cash assistance to survivors of crime through grants from the California Office of Emergency Services to local, community-based organizations that work to meet the needs of victims of crime. 

The following can be attributed to Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice:  “Fewer than one in five victims of crime report receiving the financial help, medical assistance and other healing services afforded to them under the state’s victim compensation program, and this critical new law will remove barriers to compensation, eliminate unjust eligibility restrictions and reduce red tape so survivors can get the help they need. Gov. Newsom is to be commended for recognizing that closing the gaps that have allowed too many victims to slip through the cracks without support, and ensuring all survivors get the services they need to heal will have a direct and profound impact on the safety and well being of our communities, particularly those most impacted by crime and violence.”