Georgia legislators are trying to track down possibly millions of dollars in missing funds that are earmarked for crime victims. Frances Glover, an advocate for domestic violence victims, has lobbied for legislation to account for fine money collected by Georgia’s 1,100 courts. Under state law, 5 percent of fines must be allocated to crime victims, witness protection and agencies like domestic violence shelters.
The state has no procedures for tracking the money, leaving counties to report to the state how much is collected and disbursed under the 5 percent law. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, $6.3 million was sent to crime victim programs, although $33 million had been collected for disbursement. A state criminal justice council has no authority to question the counties’ reports.
The House Appropriations Human Services subcommittee is seeking ways to keep track of the money, said chair Gail Buckner.
Glover wants courts to send the money directly to the shelters and other crime victims programs to make sure they are being disbursed correctly. Now, courts commonly send funds to prosecutors, who administer them on behalf of county commissions. Witness protection and crime victim assistance programs run by prosecutors also are entitled to the money, as are 42 certified shelters across the state.