For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Contact on behalf of Alliance for Safety and Justice: [email protected]
U.S. CRIME SURVIVORS APPLAUD SENATE’S PASSAGE OF THE VOCA FIX ACT
A major victory to protect funding for crime victims passes the Senate 100-0; funding will ensure more help for victims through financial support, medical, mental health and legal resources
Bipartisan legislation prevents victim services funding from being diverted as result of deferred criminal prosecutions, reduces some bureaucratic barriers
WASHINGTON – Crime survivors across the country applauded today as the Senate passed the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act (“VOCA Fix Act”). With a vote of 100-0, this bipartisan legislation stabilizes the Crime Victims Fund and prevents ongoing, catastrophic cuts to programs that provide services and direct funding to victims. The victory comes after advocacy from the Alliance for Safety and Justice’s Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network of more than 57,000 crime survivors nationwide, along with other organizations.
Grants from the Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) provide funding for crime victim services nationwide, but have faced devastating cuts in recent years, as a result of an increase in the use of deferred prosecution agreements in federal white collar criminal cases that are a major source of the funds. The VOCA Fix Act redirects monetary penalties from non-criminal settlements into VOCA funding, allocating an additional $4 to $7 billion to support crime victims service providers, trauma recovery centers, and state victim compensation programs. The legislation also removes unnecessary barriers to accessing the grants – it directs states to temporarily suspend the requirement that service providers produce funding to match their VOCA grant during and up to a year after the pandemic, and allows states to continue doing so in the future. The removal of this barrier will allow more community-based organizations, which are often best positioned to support diverse victims, to become eligible for the essential funding.
“This is a major step forward in improving public safety and supporting the communities most impacted by violence in our country,” said Aswad Thomas, a survivor of gun violence and national director of the 57,000-member Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “We thank our leaders in the Senate for listening to the voices of crime survivors, who will now have more of the resources they need to heal from trauma.”
In April, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and the Alliance for Safety and Justice released the National Crime Victims Agenda: A Plan to Address the Needs of Our Nation’s Diverse Victims of Crime. The report shows that despite substantial increases in criminal justice spending over the last three decades, the majority of crime survivors do not receive support to recover from harm. According to the report, more than 3 million Americans were the victims of at least one violent crime in 2018. Yet while nearly eight out of 10 survivors say their lives had been affected by the crime, fewer than one in three receive the kind of help they need to recover.