CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -
Families of murder victims in South Carolina are about to receive more financial assistance to lay their loved ones to rest.
The Office of Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the state would provide additional aid for families of murder victims.
That money goes towards the funeral and burial for eligible homicide victims and is reimbursed.
Before July 1, family members were reimbursed up to $4,000 for a funeral, now families can receive up to $6,500.
Wilson said the aid is paid for by criminals, and not going to require any additional tax payer money.
Families of murder victims in Charleston County receive more assistance than anywhere else in the state.
In 2017, the Attorney General's office said 56 families had their loved one's funeral paid for in Charleston County, more than any other county in the state.
Fifty-two of those payouts were for victims of homicide. The Charleston County Coroner's Office said they saw 52 homicide victims in 2017, meaning every homicide victim's family received payment.Richland County had the second most payouts with 23 payouts for homicide victims despite the Richland County coroner saying they had seen 56 homicide victims.Capt. Roger Antonio with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office said victim advocacy is a priority for the department."We understand that providing that support is not only emotional but that financial assistance is equally important," said Antonio.
"That's a burden lifted off that they know they're going to get that, and when it comes it's a relief because they can put that to what they put up front," said Tysese Miller who lost her son 20 years ago to homicide. "It's just a good feeling to know you're going to get it."The Attorney General's Office said the average funeral cost is $7,000 and said this new cap puts South Carolina in line with other state's payouts.
"At the time, that four thousand was a god send, but now being that cap has been risen I think it's going to help out a lot," said Easter Laroche, a victim's advocate and coordinator with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.A spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office said people have four years from the date of the death to apply to get reimbursed for those funeral and burial costs.The amount paid statewide last fiscal year to families or murder victims was over $1.2 million dollars.
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