URGENT! Contact Congress to Save VOCA!

There is a true crisis concerning the VOCA Crime Victims Fund. VOCA grants are the primary source of federal funding for thousands of victim service providers across the nation, including programs serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and drunk driving. Most of the crisis centers under the LaFASA coalition umbrella receive funding through VOCA. VOCA grants also fund victim compensation, which helps survivors pay medical bills, makes up for missed wages, and, in the most severe cases, helps pay for funeral costs. In Fiscal Year 2020, the VOCA disbursement – and thus the funding available for victim service providers – decreased by 25%, and victim service providers have been told to expect further, potentially catastrophic cuts. Such cuts to programs that already struggle to serve every survivor who walks through their doors would mean that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be unable to access lifesaving services every year, programs would be forced to close, and tens of thousands of advocates could lose their jobs during a time of extremely high unemployment. This would also coincide with continued increased need, particularly for African-American communities that have been disproportionately impacted, for services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced state and local funding.

Below is a simple strategy that will save VOCA, thus providing needed advocacy and rectification for children, women, and men affected by violent crimes.
The Basics
Fact: The Victim of Crime Act’s (VOCA) Crime Victims Fund (CVF) is a non-taxpayer source
of funding that supports thousands of crime victims services providers serving millions of
victims of crime annually and is funded by monetary penalties associated with federal
criminal convictions.
Fact: Deposits fluctuate annually based on the cases that the Department of Justice successfully
prosecutes.
Fact: Appropriators decide how much to release from the CVF every year. Statutorily, this
money funds specific DOJ programs and state victim assistance grants and supplements
state victim compensation funds.
Fact: It is important to have money in the CVF to provide a buffer for lean years.
Unfortunately, if there are too many lean years in a row, the CVF will not be able to provide that
buffer. That is the situation we are currently facing.
Lower Deposits Lead to Cuts in Grants
Fact: Deposits into the CVF are historically low. Deposits the last three years have been $445
million, $495 million and $503 million respectively – deposits have not been this low since 2003.
This decrease is caused in part by an increase in the use of deferred prosecution and nonprosecution agreements, the monetary penalties associated with which are deposited into the
General Treasury rather than the Crime Victims Fund.
Fact: Lower deposits lead to lower releases. Appropriators are justly cautious about depleting
the CVF, and they are reluctant to dip too deeply into the buffer the CVF provides, particularly if
they do not see indications that the CVF will be replenished.
Fact: The amount coming off the top for non-victim service grants is somewhat static, which
means that the cuts to the annual VOCA release disproportionately cut victim service
grants. Thus, the percentage cut to victim service grants is larger than the percentage cut to the
VOCA release.
Fact: State grants decreased in both FY’19 and FY’20, reflecting the decreased deposits.
The Senate bill cuts these further. If the release was to reflect deposits without drawing down the
balance in the CVF to dangerously low levels, assuming no transfers to fund other grants, victim
assistance grants to the states could be cut to as little as approximately $200 million annually,
only 10% of what went out in FY’20.
The Impact
Fact: States are experiencing enormous cuts to their awards. See table below.
Fact: Every state is at a different place in their grant cycles. Some subgrantees have already seen
cuts (ex. Ohio), and some will see them in the next few years.
Fact: CACs receive between $150 and $200 million in VOCA dollars annually, which is the
largest single source of funding for these programs. The cost of serving the more than 371,000
children they helped last year was $614 million. If programs lose 70% of their funding, this
would leave a $140 million deficit, equating to about 84,450 children.
Fact: Victim services in Ohio lost $55 million in 2020. Rape crisis programs specifically lost
over $7.5 Million, with individual programs losing between 32% and 57% (as well as three
100% cuts) of VOCA funds. This will essentially cut services in half, reducing survivor access to
pre-2000 levels.
The Solution
Increase deposits into the Crime Victims Fund by depositing monetary penalties associated
with deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF as well as
monetary penalties associated with convictions.
This is not new spending. It is simply capturing money that would be going into the CVF if
these crimes were prosecuted instead of settled.
Congress must also increase the federal contribution to state victim compensation funds by
matching 75% of state funds instead of the current 60%.
For more information, see this letter to Congress, signed by over 1,480 national, state, tribal,
and local organizations and government agencies. The 56 State and Territorial Attorneys General
also sent a letter to Congress, addressing some of these same issues.
The Action To Take
1. Contact (email/write/call) your congress person. Let them know that you support the VOCA because without it, many victims would not have the means for assistance through counseling, advocacy, legal aid, and so much more! In addition to your congress person, contact the…
Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker
House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate, Washington, DC 20510

Honorable Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader
House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate, Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chair
Honorable Jim Jordan, Ranking Member

House Judiciary Committee
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Lindsey Graham, Chair
Senate Judiciary Committee
290 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Honorable Dianne Feinstein, Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Committee
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Honorable _________________ ___________________,

I support the hundreds of organizations who’ve propose the following measures, which have also been
supported by the 56 State and Territorial Attorneys Generals:
• Redirect monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution
agreements that would otherwise be deposited into the General Treasury into the Crime
Victims Fund;
• Increase the federal grant calculation for funding to victim compensation programs from
the current 60% to 75% of state-funded payouts; and
• Allow states to request a one-year no-cost extension from the Attorney General, as
allowed for other Department of Justice formula grant programs, to ensure states can
thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized.
In addition, it is being asked also that Congress:
• Require state VOCA Administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim
service subgrantees for the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year;
• Allow state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their
discretion after the aforementioned waiver expires and require state VOCA
Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver;
• Instruct OVC not to deduct restitution payments recovered by state victim compensation
funds when calculating victim compensation awards; and
• Provide flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote
victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program.

Sincerely,

____________________________________________________

2. In addition to directly contacting these representatives, please spread the word on social media! You can find your representatives’ social media handles/profiles at this link. It’s encouraged to use the images below.

[@Senator/Representative] Lifesaving services for victims are on the line. There is a #Crisis4Victims. Congress, pass the #VOCAFix in the budget deal ASAP! https://bit.ly/3op06Rq
 
[@Senator/Representative] Don’t let VOCA go over the cliff. Include #VOCAFix in the Omnibus #Crisis4Victims +1500 victims rights orgs +56 Attorneys General & national orgs have asked for this fix https://bit.ly/3op06Rq

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