Families of murder victims will be able to get more financial aid from the state as they lay their loved ones to rest.
The office of Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Wednesday that the South Carolina Legislature approved the increase in funds beginning in fiscal year 2019, which began on July 1, 2018.
According to Wilson, relatives with eligible claims will now receive up to $6,500 to pay for funeral and burial expenses, and increase from the previous $4,000 cap.
The increase applies to claims received by the Department of Crime Victim Compensation on or after July 1.
Wilson says the money helps families facing the unthinkable tragedy of losing a loved one to homicide.
“This is aid for families who’ve gone through one of the worst things imaginable, and it’s paid for by criminals,” said Wilson. “I want to thank the legislature for approving this increase and bringing South Carolina in line with other states.”
Families can claim the funds so long as the victim is determined to have not been involved in illegal activity at the time or have contributed to their own victimization.
According to Wilson's office, a survey conducted by the DCVC found that funeral costs had risen since the last time the cap was raised, which was in 1996.
At that time, the cap was increased from $2,000 to $4,000; the survey found that the new average funeral cost is about $7,000.
In fiscal year 2016-2017, the DCVC paid out more than $1.2 million for 344 funerals, which included 250 burials, 86 cremations, and 8 remains shipped.
Of the total 344 funerals paid by the department that fiscal year, 258 of them cost more than the previous $4,000 cap.
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