When Robert B. Bush Jr. was shot and killed on a Southeast street last October he had no life insurance. His three children were dependent on the $150-a-month child-support payment that ceased with his death.
Bush's former wife, Linda, turned to the District's Crime Victims' Compensation Office, becoming one of the first to seek help under that newly implemented program. It was created to help victims of violent crimes who have no other source of aid.
But neither Bush nor any of the other 29 victims or survivors who have sought compensation under the program since its inception in September have received money.
The $300,000-a-year program is designed to pay up to $25,000 to victims of crimes or their dependents.
"It's been almost six months now," said Linda Bush, who lives in Loveville, Md., near Leonardtown, "and living on just over $600 a month from Social Security survivors' benefits paid to Robert Bush's children is just not enough."
She said that the children, ages 11, 12 and 17, "are really hard to clothe because they grow so fast," and that although they go to public schools, "I still have to pay for certain books and other activities."
Bush said that she has been unemployed since last August when she quit her shift-work job as a correctional officer at the Charles County Detention Center because she did not want to continue leaving her children at home unattended.
John Dean, who directs the victims' compensation program with a staff of two from an office in the city's Department of Employment Services headquarters, said that payments have not been made to Bush and other applicants because the law requires that any related criminal case must be concluded before compensation is provided. Another reason for the delay, he said, is that some applicants fail to fill out the application forms accurately.
One applicant, Martha Casey, is close to receiving compensation, Dean said. Last Thursday she signed the final forms, and Dean said that she should receive the money in about two weeks.
Casey's son, Quand, then 15, was assaulted by three youths on Nov. 11 while on his way to basketball practice at Fletcher Johnson Junior High School, where he was a student. He suffered a broken chin and several of his teeth were knocked out of place. He was in Capitol Hill Hospital for seven days and underwent surgery.
Casey, a supervisory dietitian at Providence Hospital, had no health insurance, so she applied to the Crime Victims' Compensation Program in January. She is expected to become the program's first beneficiary, and will be awarded $5,800 for her son's medical expenses.
Linda Bush, however, will have to wait until her former husband's alleged killer is brought to trial, Dean said. Douglas Michael Wright, accused of the crime, has been held without bond since November and is awaiting trial.
The District and 38 states that have similar programs allow a resident of one jurisdiction to file in another if they or their relatives are victims of crimes there. Dean said that other states also made few awards in their first year of operation.