In an unprecedented move, Chicago City is putting forward an attractive offer. Anyone who says they’ve experienced domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault, or human trafficking could receive $1,000.
"In its commitment to trauma-informed practices, survivors will not be asked for evidence of survivorship…"
On the one hand, free money for claiming to be a "survivor." On the other hand, great incentive for false accusations.
What could possibly go wrong? https://t.co/aw6GGruNMQ
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) June 21, 2023
Brandon Johnson, the city’s Democratic Mayor, unveiled a $5 million fund last week. It’s designed to support those who say they’ve survived an assault. The most exciting part? There’s no need for survivors to prove their experience to access this financial assistance. The only requirement is their income equal to or less than 300% of the federal poverty level.
In a pilot version of this program, a whopping 1,000 people stepped forward to apply for the grant. By early May, Mayor Johnson announced that 733 folks had already received their grants. The diverse applicants included 35% who identified as Latino and 47% as Black.
But not everyone sees this as a purely positive move. Scott Greenfield, a defense attorney, suggests that such a program could potentially encourage false claims. He explained that the promise of receiving money just by declaring oneself a “survivor” could be a huge temptation.
Many often underestimate the occurrence of groundless allegations. Media reports tend to suggest that only 2-10% of rape allegations might be unfounded, creating an impression that it’s rare for women to overstate or make up instances of sexual assault.
But the truth is, this number can be misleading. It includes only those false allegations that get reported to the police. It doesn’t account for other situations of alleged sexual assault, like false reports, cases where there’s not enough evidence for an arrest or instances where an arrest wasn’t possible due to factors beyond the police’s control.
Additionally, it’s worth remembering that only a handful of cases that start with an arrest actually make it to court and result in a “guilty” verdict.
One potential issue is that Chicago might not release data that could show if any of the grant recipients had made up their survivor status to gain access to the program’s benefits. This could be a critical point for both the city and the program’s future success.