Washington – The Senate today passed a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Victims of Crime Act, known as VOCA, by fixing how the Crime Victims Fund is funded.
This legislation will redirect monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF to increase funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs. The legislation, already passed by the House, received a unanimous 100-0 vote in the Senate and will head to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
“The Senate’s vote today brings us closer to restoring vital funding for programs that help survivors of crimes recover. These programs were left severely underfunded due to declining deposits, but the need for them has never been greater due to the rise in domestic violence during the pandemic,” said Feinstein.
VOCA established the CVF, which provides grant funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs. Grants are awarded to states, local governments, individuals, and other entities by the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime. The CVF does not receive appropriated funding; instead, it receives most money through deposits from criminal fines. As a result, deposits fluctuate annually based on cases that the Justice Department prosecutes.
Deposits into the CVF are historically low, and the decrease is due in large part to greater use of deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements. Monetary penalties associated with these prosecutions are currently deposited into the General Treasury, not the CVF.
The bipartisan, bicameral VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act will strengthen VOCA and preserve the CVF by amending how the CVF is funded. Critical changes in the bill include:
- Directing criminal settlements from federal non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, which are currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the CVF (known as the “deposits fix,” this change would be the most significant and could make an additional $4–$7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to the CVF over the next few years);
- Increasing the percentage that state compensation programs are reimbursed by the Federal government from 60 to 75 percent;
- Allowing states to apply for a no-cost extension for VOCA assistance grants;
- Giving states the ability to waive subgrantee match requirements for VOCA assistance grants; and
- Providing additional flexibility for state victim compensation programs to provide compensation for victims, even if they do not interact with law enforcement.