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AGs want congressional authorization of additional Crime Victims Fund money

Rebecca Barnabi
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A coalition of 41 attorneys general is encouraging Congress to authorize much-needed 2024 bridge funding for the federal Crime Victims Fund (the “VOCA Fund”).

The VOCA Fund supports the provision of essential direct services for crime victims and survivors across the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, projected fiscal year 2024 funding for victim service grants will be $700 million less than fiscal year 2023.

“In every corner of our nation, victims of crime rely on the vital support and services provided by federal funding. As victims navigate the aftermath of trauma, from the pain of physical injuries to the anguish of emotional distress, victim advocates are there to support recovery and well-being. That’s why it is imperative that Congress acts swiftly to ensure that victim service programs, like those available here in the Commonwealth, remain fully funded,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares. “As violent crime continues to rise across the country, we have to ensure we remain committed to supporting victims every step of the way. I’m proud to stand with this bipartisan coalition of attorneys general calling on Congress to ensure victims and survivors have the resources and assistance they need in their most difficult times.”

The VOCA Fund was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, and is the primary financial source for victim services in all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. VOCA Fund revenue is generated from offenders convicted of crimes, not from taxes.

Congress passed the VOCA Fix Act in 2021 to allow monetary recoveries from federal deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements to replenish the fund. While passage of the VOCA Fix Act was necessary, it was insufficient to adequately shore up fund balances, and 2024 VOCA funding for crime victim service programs is anticipated to be 41 percent lower nationwide when compared to 2023 grant awards.

Without prompt action by Congress, many victim service programs across the country may be forced to close.

The VOCA Fund supports medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, courtroom advocacy and temporary housing for victims and survivors of crime. The Fund also helps to fund federal, state and tribal victim service programs, crime victim compensation, discretionary grant awards, victim specialists in U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the federal victim notification system.

Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services administers victim assistance grant programs financed by the VOCA Fund.

In Virginia, VOCA funds are used to provide important services such as children’s advocacy centers, sexual assault and domestic violence prevention programming and victim advocates at our courthouses.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.