President Clinton on Saturday urged states to earmark $44 million from a federal crime fund to help pay the costs for victims of gang violence.
Clinton used his weekly radio address to say the nation needed to "stand up for the rights and interests of crime victims."
"As we prevent crime and punish criminals, we must also always remember the victims of crime themselves," Clinton said. "When you're a victim, especially a victim of violent crime, the losses you face go far beyond the money stolen or the property destroyed."
Under the Justice Department's Crime Victims Fund, money from fines, penalty assessments and bond forfeitures paid for federal crimes is distributed to states to compensate victims for such costs such as unpaid medical bills, mental health counseling, funeral expenses and lost wages.
The money also goes to public and non-profit organizations that help victims. No taxpayer money is involved.
Because of the successful prosecution of several large cases, the fund has grown by more than 250 percent in the last four years.
Last year, Japan's Daiwa Bank paid a fine of $340 million fine to the fund to settle a criminal fraud case stemming from illegal trading activity in New York. This month, the Archer Daniels Midland Co. paid a $100 million anti-trust fine.
Clinton proposed that states use 10 percent of the $440 million from those two cases and direct it toward victims of gang violence, an increasing problem in America.
He noted that some of the funds already have been targeted to specific cases, such as the victims of domestic violence, rape or child abuse.
Clinton outlined the proposal a day after making a two-day campaign swing through his native South during which he underscored his crime-fighting credentials. He embarks on a three-day tour of seven states today.