Cuts Made By The U.S. Federal Government Are Crippling Victims’ Services
The cuts that the U.S. Government has made to VOCA Crime Victims’ Fund will reduce trauma counseling and victims’ compensation funds that give victims money to help with the emotional and financial recovery of scam victims in the United States.
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Deposits into the Crime Victims Fund have dropped dramatically in the last several years, leading to a substantial cut to VOCA victim assistance grants.
As a result, victim services organizations like ours are facing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and even program closures while the demand for victim services is growing as never before.
This July 14th we are asking for your help in asking U.S. Senator Schumer to bring the VOCA Fix legislation to the Floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote before the August recess.
How can you help?
Call and tweet your Senators and Senator Schumer!
Here are example Tweets:
- “Don’t leave for recess and leave crime victims behind! Bring the House-passed #VOCAFix to the floor of the U.S. Senate with no amendments. There’s a #Crisis4Victims”
- “With each day that passes, millions of dollars are left on the table that could help solve the #Crisis4Victims.”
- “Over 1,710 advocates have asked for the #VOCAFix as is. Thank you for sponsoring this legislation. Please bring the House-passed bill to the Floor immediately for a vote.”
Please copy and share everywhere!
As we as a nation are pulling out all of the stops to address and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated public health crisis, we are simultaneously turning our backs on people impacted by long-standing, pervasive public health epidemics – financial fraud, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, and other forms of interpersonal violence & crime.
Victims of crime are facing potentially catastrophic cuts to funding for programs that serve them, and the Senate must take immediate action to protect grant funding for victim services by immediately passing the bipartisan, bicameral VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (“the VOCA Fix Act”).
The U.S. Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants are the largest source of federal funding for victim service organizations. These grants are drawn from the Crime Victims Fund (“CVF” or “the Fund”), which comprises monetary penalties associated with federal criminal convictions; VOCA grants are NOT funded by taxpayers! They are funded by criminals! They can be used to serve survivors of all crimes. VOCA also supports state victim compensation by matching 60% of states’ victim compensation funds.
The CVF is like a bank account with deposits and withdrawals.
In the past, when deposits were high, Congress was able to withdraw money to fund victim service grants while also leaving some in its ‘savings account’ as a backstop for lean years. However, even the most robust ‘savings account’ will run out if more money is withdrawals exceed deposits. That is the situation in which we find ourselves. The balance in the ‘savings account’ has decreased by 70% since the end of 2017.
Deposits into the Fund are the lowest they’ve been since the early 2000s, and Congress has also pulled from the Fund’s savings. But since they also will need to draw on these savings in future years, they have had to cut victim service grants to avoid emptying the CVF entirely.
The historically low deposits into the CVF are, in large part, are the result of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial decisions, particularly in white-collar criminal cases. Instead of prosecuting, they are entering into deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements. Monetary penalties associated with these agreements go into the General Treasury instead of the Crime Victims Fund. The underlying crime is the same, but survivors do not benefit from that money – more than $7 billion over the last three years and $2.5 billion since January 1 of this year.
The solution is simple: pass the VOCA Fix Act to change the law so that monetary penalties associated with deferred and non-prosecution agreements go into the Crime Victims Fund also. It’s a common-sense solution that has broad bipartisan, bicameral support. And it can’t wait! Every day that goes by without this deposits fix is a day that crime victims and the programs that serve them are denied critical funding – victims have already lost $500 million this year alone. The House of Representatives passed the VOCA Fix Act by a margin of 384 – 38 two-and-a-half months ago, and it is time for the Senate to step up and follow suit.
*More information about the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 in the form of a letter signed by more than 1,710 organizations and government agencies can be found at https://tinyurl.com/23drue5v.
VOCA Fix Fact Sheet
H.R.1652/S.611: VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (“the VOCA Fix Act”)
Dated June 3, 2021
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 four years have been $445 million, $495 million, $503 million, and $117 million (as of the end of December) 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 non-prosecution 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 FY’19, FY’20, and FY’21, reflecting the decreased deposits. 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 5% of what went out in FY’18.
Fact: States are experiencing enormous cuts to their awards.
Fact: Every state is at a different place in their grant cycles. Most states have either already cut funding to victim service organizations or will do so this coming fiscal year.
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.
Pass the VOCA Fix Act to 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 the letter to Congress (https://tinyurl.com/23drue5v), signed by more than 1,700 national, state, tribal, and local organizations and government agencies. The 56 State and Territorial Attorneys General also sent a letter to Congress (https://dojmt.gov/wp-content/uploads/VOCA-Amendments-NAAG-Final-.pdf), addressing some of these same issues.
SCARS was unable to sign the letter in time, but SCARS is a full supporter of the #VOCAfix campaign. SCARS is also a crime victims’ assistance provider and is affected by these funding reductions.
We urge all readers to assist in this important campaign to help solve victims’ support funding in the United States.