Victims of crime question Illinois program designed to help them – NBC Chicago


Isaiah (Zay) Manning was leaving a convenience store in his Chicago Bronzeville neighborhood in the middle of the day when the bullets started flying in July 2018.

“It was like boom. I was like, ‘Oh, I got shot.’ I immediately felt the pain, ”Manning said.

His mother Natalie Manning received a phone call from the hospital telling her that Manning had been shot.

“I was able to get to the emergency room. He was bleeding everywhere,” said Natalie Manning. “The doctor told me to be honest, it didn’t look good.”

Manning was only 20 years old at the time of the shooting, but a bullet in the stomach quickly aged him.

“I had a colostomy bag. I had to relearn to walk for about three or four months. My digestive system was disturbed. I had several surgeries,” he recalls.

At the time, Manning was working on a training program at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

After getting into trouble as a teenager, the shooting set him back emotionally and financially.

“I lost my clothes, my shoes.… Then I was going to have to miss a few months of work,” Manning said.

The good news is that Illinois has a crime victim compensation program that can provide up to $ 27,000 in expenses for victims of qualified crime. But NBC 5 Investigates has analyzed every claim over the past 10 years, over 42,000 claims, and we’ve found that the money the state gives to victims has dropped sharply over the past 10 years, dropping from over $ 12 million ten years ago to just over $ 4 million. Last year.

Zay said that although he made a claim and was eligible for compensation, his family failed to provide the necessary documents within the 30-day period to prove his claim.

Her mother said: “I didn’t have time because the pandemic struck. We heard from a representative once during the pandemic and then we heard from no one and no letters.”

The Trace reporter Lakeidra Chavis examined 15,000 victims over a five-year period starting in 2015. She found a bureaucracy difficult for victims to manage.

“We found that less than four in 10 of those 15,000 claimants received some type of financial reimbursement,” Chavis said. “We don’t know what happened to the rest of the money.”

The money to fund the victim compensation program comes from state and federal fines collected from the fines courts that convicted felons are required to pay. It does not use taxpayers’ money. According to the comptroller’s records, the program is administered by the state attorney’s office and receives an average of $ 8.5 million per year.

“People are entitled to $ 27,000, but we found that the average reimbursement was around $ 4,000,” Chavis said, according to his research.

Even though NBC 5 Investigates found that fewer victims receive money each year, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said that, under his watch, his office helped get more money, on average, for each. of these victims.

Victims with a criminal history can be disqualified if there is evidence that they committed a crime when they were injured, unlike Manning. The attorney general’s office investigates the claim request and files a report with the Illinois Claims Court, which makes the final decision.

“They approved it but it was because of the amount of documents they wanted that it was next to impossible,” said Natalie Manning, frustrated. “Why have these programs if you’re not going to get the funding for the people? “

Court records show Manning’s family received a letter informing them that they had 30 days to submit their medical bills, but because they missed the deadline, the attorney general’s office recommended no payment.

Today, Manning walks with a limp, but he walks without the help of the Compensation for Victims of Crime program.

“I am proud of the road traveled. He does amazing things, ”his mother said.

Manning is back at work as a writer at Chicago Contextos and has just appeared in the documentary “All These Sons”. This summer, he and his mother walked the red carpet together at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

“It made me feel like I was a man on the right track and that I had to move on,” Manning said with a smile.

After NBC 5 Investigates inquired about Manning’s case, the attorney general’s office said it would reopen his case if he and his mother provided receipts for his medical bills.

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