Governor McAuliffe announces $50 million DOJ award for crime victim services
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday that Virginia has been awarded more than $50 million in federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds from the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). This year’s award is more than four times the amount the state received in 2014. Funds will support and improve services for crime victims.
“April marked the 20th anniversary of the Virginia’s Victims’ Bill of Rights. We have made great progress over the years, but there is a great deal yet to do,” said Governor McAuliffe. “VOCA funds, in tandem with state support, have played a key role in our efforts, and this increase will give us a great opportunity to expand services for crime victims.”
Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, Brian Moran noted that, “Virginia’s progress in addressing crime victims’ needs is the result of a lot of hard work by local and state agencies, advocacy groups and dedicated individuals. We’ll be drawing on their expertise as we look at ways to put the additional funds to work.”
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) Director, Francine Ecker, echoed the Secretary’s comments: “We’ll be consulting with our partners to determine the best uses of the additional funds. We see this as an excellent opportunity to address some long-standing needs, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them as we move forward.”
The 1984 Victims of Crime Act created the Crime Victims Fund, which is one of the major sources of support for victim services each year in Virginia and throughout the United States. The money in the Fund comes from criminal fines and other sources, not from taxpayers.
DCJS receives and administers VOCA victim assistance funds for Virginia. DCJS uses the money, in combination with state funds, to provide training, technical assistance and grants to support local victim/witness programs, sexual assault crisis centers, domestic violence programs and child abuse treatment programs throughout the state.
Since 2000, Congress has capped the Fund’s available money distribution each year. The annual caps are intended to minimize the impact of fluctuations in deposits into the Fund each year and stabilize it as a source of support for services. The appropriations bill signed by President Obama last December raised the cap from $745 million to $2.36 billion which produced an unprecedented increase in distributed funds.
DCJS will also be conducting public listening sessions throughout Virginia beginning in September. These sessions will be designed to inform the public of this unprecedented opportunity and to get suggestions on ways to expand and improve services for crime victims. Details on dates and locations for the listening sessions will be posted on the DCJS website (dcjs.virginia.gov) when they are finalized.