NNEDV Welcomes Introduction of Bill to Fix Deposits into the Victims of Crime Fund for Lifesaving Services
March 4, 2021
A Statement by Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) applauds the introduction of the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (“VOCA Fix”), a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would secure billions in victim services funding. VOCA is the largest source of federal funding for domestic and sexual assault services in the country and is not taxpayer funded. VOCA funds come from federal criminal fines and fees that are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), but unfortunately this fund is dwindling due to a change in federal prosecuting practices. This legislation would fix the way the deposits are made into the fund to restore this critical support.
Millions of survivors rely on VOCA funds to access lifesaving services including shelter, housing, legal assistance, counseling, and more. Without VOCA funds, many victim service programs would cease to exist, leaving survivors and their families with nowhere to turn.
NNEDV commends Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and John Moolenaar (R-MI), as well as Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for their leadership and commitment to lifesaving services for victims of crime.
VOCA supports over 6,000 local organizations such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and child abuse treatment programs, and supports services to over six million victims of all types of crimes annually. VOCA is facing massive, immediate cuts and additional future funding cuts without a legislative fix.
Over the course of the last decade, the Department of Justice has brought fewer federal criminal cases and has instead entered into deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements. The monetary penalties from these agreements are deposited into the General Treasury rather than into the CVF, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars. VOCA grants have decreased by 70% over the last four years.
The VOCA Fix addresses this ongoing crisis by redirecting fines and penalties from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements into the CVF, thereby reducing additional catastrophic cuts to VOCA.
More than 1,680 victim rights organizations government agencies, and 56 Attorney Generals support this legislative fix.
Until the VOCA Fix passes, funding for victim services will be in jeopardy. In the midst of multiple intersecting crises – the pandemic, economic hardship, racial injustice, natural disasters – local victim services providers simply cannot withstand more VOCA cuts. We urge the House and Senate to take up and immediately pass the VOCA Fix with haste. Survivors cannot wait.