By The Sentencing Project
Oklahoma’s Victims Compensation Program denies aid to the families of black homicide victims more often than to other racial groups, according to a recent analysis by The Frontier.
The compensation program was created to assist families with funds for funeral expenses, counseling, and loss of support. The analysis found 38% of applications involving black homicide victims were denied funds, compared to 27% for whites between 2014 and 2018.
Denials are often attributed to the victim’s “contributory conduct”—meaning that the victim was somehow responsible for their death because of factors such as their alleged gang membership.
“Black people are automatically considered or assumed guilty or associated more than our white counterparts all the time. I think it’s those same systems of bias and racial inequity at work in those denials,” said Rev. Sheri Dickerson, director of Black Lives Matter OKC.
The racial disparities that impact aid for victims’ families are not limited to Oklahoma. Past reporting from the Marshall Project, Reveal, and USA Today found seven states—Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio—deny victim compensation to people with prior criminal records