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Mississippi joins coalition requesting additional financial support for crime victims

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Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch

Monday, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch joined a coalition of state and territorial attorneys general representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories urging Congress to adopt key changes to the Victims of Crime Act that provide critical financial support to victims of violent crimes and their families.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the attorneys general call on Congress to adopt changes to the Crime Victims Fund, a national fund that supports state victims’ services programs. The recommendations will stabilize the fund’s finances and provide more flexibility to grantees who are providing services to victims and their families.

“As your Attorney General, I remain steadfast in my commitment to help victims of crime recover from and overcome the physical, emotional, and financial suffering they have endured,” Fitch said in a statement. “Today, I joined attorneys general across our country to urge Congress to expand funding to ensure victims are receiving the care they deserve and accessing critical tools to empower victims and their loved ones as they recover.”

The fund, established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, is the primary funding source for victim services in all 50 states and six U.S. territories. Deposits to the fund originate from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The fund covers the expenses of essential direct services and support for victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, including medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, courtroom advocacy and temporary housing.

In 2015, Congress increased the cap on distributions to the fund, allowing 2.5 million more victims to receive support. According to the letter, while “deposits have sharply decreased in recent years due to a decline in the fines and penalties recouped from federal criminal cases, withdrawals have increased at a rapid pace.”

The coalition made three recommendations to promote the sustainability of the fund, and preserve access to programs and services:

Redirect fines and fees from corporate deferred and non-prosecution agreements to the Fund: The Department of Justice increasingly uses deferred and non-prosecution agreements to resolve corporate misconduct. The AGs ask Congress to redirect these deposits to the fund. In 2018 and 2019, recoveries resulting from these agreements were about $8 billion each year.

  • Increase the rate of federal reimbursement to states for victim compensation programs: The fund currently reimburses state programs that provide financial assistance to victims at a rate of 60%, the remainder usually being funded by fines and fees in state courts. The letter recommends Congress reimburse state programs at a rate of 75%.
  • Extend the amount of time VOCA funds can be spent: VOCA requires recipients to spend grants within a four-year period. The coalition asks Congress to extend the period of funding so that state and local organizations can better plan and predict funding for long-term services.

The National Association of Attorneys General played a key role in facilitating the letter.

Read the letter.

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Enchanted drive homicide victim identified

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Warren County Deputy Coroner Kelda Bailess has identified the victim in Monday afternoon’s homicide as Karl Micheal Singleton, 20, of 108 Enchanted Drive, Vicksburg. Singleton was just seven days shy of turning 21.
Bailess said Singleton died shortly after arriving at the Emergency Room at Merit Health River Region.
His body will be sent to the Mississippi State Crime Lab for autopsy.
Vicksburg Police are continuing their investigation, led by  Sgts Curtis Judge and Tommy Curtis Jr.

Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the criminal investigation division of the Police Department at 601-636-2511 or CrimeStoppers at 601-355-TIPS.

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VIDEO: Homicide on Enchanted Drive in Vicksburg

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enchanted hills shooting
(photo by Thomas Parker)

UPDATE: The Vicksburg Police Department has verified that the shooting victim has died as a result of his wounds.

Witnesses have provided the description of a dark colored sedan as the suspect vehicle.

Original story:

A man has been shot multiple times on Enchanted Drive in Vicksburg.

The shooting occurred about 5:40 p.m. Monday.

The victim, only identified as a 20-year-old, has been transported to Merit Health River Region Hospital. His condition is not known at this time.

Multiple Vicksburg Police officers and investigators are on the scene investigating.

The Vicksburg Daily News will provide additional information as we get it.

 

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Update: Pascagoula brothers located; mother in custody

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Kaiden and Kolden Wall and-Sarah-Caswell (photos courtesy MBI)


UPDATE: Officials say Kaiden Wall, 6, and Kolden Wall, 2, were located Monday morning in Lincoln County, near Brookhaven, Mississippi. They are both safe.

The boys were taken by their non-custodial mother, Sarah Caswell. She is in police custody.

***AMBER ALERT CANCELED***
Kaiden and Kolden Wall have been located and are safe!! Sarah Caswell is in police custody….

Posted by Pascagoula Police Department on Monday, October 19, 2020

Original story: 

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has issued an Endangered/Missing Child Alert for brothers Kaiden and Kolden Wall of Pascagoula, Mississippi, in Jackson County.

Kaiden Wall is a white male, 6 years old, 3-feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.

His brother Kolden Wall is a white male, 2 years old, 2-feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 40 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.

Kaiden Wall and Kolden Wall may be accompanied by their non-custodial mother, Sarah Caswell.

Caswell is a white female, 33 years old, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 150 pounds, with black hair.

The vehicle being used is a 2007 silver Audi A4 2.0 bearing Alabama license plate 2BA2195.

If anyone has information regarding the whereabouts of Kaiden Wall and Kolden Wall, Sarah Caswell or the vehicle, please call the Pascagoula Police Department at 228-762-2211.

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