[JURIST] The US Department of Justice [official website] said in a press release [official press release] on Thursday that it paid victims over $800 million from the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund [official website]. The money has compensated the survivors and families of victims of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Kenyan bombings, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and other international terrorist events. Those compensated number in the thousands. Congress established the fund last May with the money seized from individuals convicted of money laundering and related financial crimes. In the next few weeks, the amount of money issued in compensation is expected to rise over a billion. The Justice Department issued the press release in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week [official website].
The criminal justice system has to continually grapple with the rights of victims versus the rights of defendants. In November voters in several states approved [JURIST report] a bill offering crime victims similar protections to those accused or convicted of crimes. In 2014 the Supreme Court limited [JURIST report] the amount of restitution that victims of child pornography could receive. Also in 2014 a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that a California law extending the time between parole hearings for crimes already committed was unconstitutional.