The Law: Easing Crime's Pain

Speaking from her wheelchair, Pat Hemenway, 46, quietly described to Washington State legislators what had happened to her. While she was walking near the University of Washington campus one day in 1972, two young muggers accosted her. For no apparent reason, one suddenly shot her in the neck, grabbed her purse and left her bleeding—and permanently paralyzed. Obviously moved by her story, the lawmakers voted to pass a new kind of law that would provide state funds to ease the plight of Mrs. Hemenway and hundreds of others like her.

Before she could receive any payments, Mrs. Hemenway died of pneumonia, which...

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