Victims of Crime Act
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund was created by Congress in 1984 to provide federal support to state and local programs that assist victims of crime. VOCA uses non-taxpayer money from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) for programs that serve victims of crime, including state-formula victim assistance grants. These funds, which are generated by fines paid by federal criminals, support services to over 6 million victims of all types of crimes annually, through 6,462 direct service organizations such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and child abuse treatment programs. Sustained VOCA funds are needed to respond to the dangerous lack of available services for victims.
VOCA Legislative Fix
The National Network to End Domestic Violence urges Congress to act quickly to save Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding by amending the law to deposit penalties and fines from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements into the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). In federal Fiscal Years 2015-2018, Congress released substantially larger sums from the CVF. This funding assists millions of victims of crime each year. However, recently the VOCA funds released annually have begun to decline because of shrinking deposits and subsequent declines in the CVF balance. The declines are due to prosecutorial strategies that have changed over the course of the last decade, and are not a partisan issue. When deposits into the CVF are reduced, the amount allocated to states for victim services is reduced. As state and local budget cuts loom on the horizon, it is more important than ever to sustain VOCA. If VOCA is not sustained, victim service providers will lose critical funds and have to close or reduce services.
We urge Congress to enact language, included in the HEROES Act (H.R. 8406), to increase deposits to the CVF. Fund deposits should be supplemented with payments made pursuant to federal deferred and non-prosecution agreements
FY 21 Federal Appropriations Requests
Deposits to the CVF fund began shrinking considerably in the past few years and, as a result, programs have begun experiencing painful cuts in victim services funding. Congress must update statutory language to increase deposits to the fund to avoid continued cuts to local programs and worsened gaps in survivor services. Unless revenues into the CVF are supplemented by other types of criminal fines, the entire CVF balance could be depleted within five years. Congress must provide steady funding in FY 21. We urge you to:
- Request strong and steady funding to be released from the VOCA fund each year and ask for $2.65 billion specifically in FY 21 to address the urgent needs of victims of crime;
- Support a continued federal funding stream from VOCA for tribes. Individuals on tribal lands experience disproportionately high rates of domestic and sexual violence and need funding for victim services; and
- Reject proposals that use the VOCA fund to pay for other Department of Justice programs since that reduces funding for direct victim services.