Fund assists nearly Four Million crime victims nationwide
Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper joined fellow attorneys general from 53 other states and territories today to submit a joint letter to Congress expressing concern about drastic cuts of more than $1.2 billion to programs that help crime victims.
“Criminals should have to pay to alleviate some of the pain they’ve caused their victims, and that’s exactly what these programs do,” said Cooper. “Victims of violent crime and their families who have already been through so much will suffer again if these cuts go through.”
The proposed cuts to the Federal Crime Victims Fund “would have a devastating impact on our ability to support victims of crime,” Attorneys General from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands said in their letter.
The Federal Crime Victims Fund was created by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA). VOCA funds come entirely from federal criminal fines, forfeitures and special assessments – not from taxpayers. Through grants to state victim compensation programs, victims of violent crimes throughout the country have been able to get help for medical care, mental health counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and other vital services. In North Carolina, these funds help support domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, counseling for victims, assistance for crime victims who must testify in court, and many other programs that advocate for victims.
“Some 4,400 local programs depend on VOCA assistance grants to provide necessary services to nearly 4 million victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving, elder abuse and robberies, as well as families of homicide victims and other victims of crime,” said the Attorneys’ General letter to Congress. “VOCA is the only federal grant program that supports direct assistance services to victims of every description.”
The appeal to Congress comes during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10-16. As part of events to mark the week, Cooper today read a proclamation to help dedicate a memorial garden for North Carolina crime victims, sponsored by the North Carolina Victims Assistance Network.
The VOCA Crime Victims Fund is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs. Although the proposed federal budget includes VOCA funding of $650 million for fiscal year 2006, all other monies remaining in the fund and any new monies collected in fiscal year 2006 would be eliminated. As a result, starting in 2007, there would be no money readily available for state victim assistance programs, crime victim compensation grants, or for federal personnel who provide victim services.