For Immediate Release: April 22, 2021
Contact: [email protected]
U.S. CRIME SURVIVORS RELEASE FIRST-EVER NATIONAL VICTIMS AGENDA WITH SUPPORT FROM STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL
Amidst National Reckoning on Race and Safety, 10-Point Plan Urges Congress and States to Prioritize Needs of Underserved Crime Victims
NEW YORK — The nation’s largest organization of U.S. crime victims today released the first-ever National Crime Victims’ Agenda to urge lawmakers to finally prioritize the needs of Black and other underserved crime victims.
“For too long, the people most harmed by violence have also been the least helped,” said Aswad Thomas, gun violence survivor and national director of the 46,000-member Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “The National Crime Victims Agenda offers policymakers a clear plan to address the needs of all crime survivors and finally end the cycle of crime. Lawmakers should read this plan carefully, and finally listen to the survivors who’ve been historically left out of the public safety conversation.”
Alliance for Safety and Justice’s 46,000-member network, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, alongside the New Jersey and Illinois’ attorneys general, announced the first-ever National Crime Victims Agenda, a 10-point plan to meet the needs of the nation’s diverse crime victims. The agenda is particularly focused on Black, Brown, and low income communities, which disproportionately experience violence and trauma and yet often have less access to programs and resources that support recovery and stop cycles of crime and violence. As a first step, crime survivors called on the U.S. Senate to pass the VOCA Fix Act, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which would expand and stabilize access to funding that supports crime victims, without an added cost to taxpayers. They also urged states to enact policy changes that prioritize community safety investments to stop cycles of crime and provide protections and support to crime survivors.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice unveiled the plan during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week as part of its annual Survivors Speak, which brings together thousands of crime victims from states across the country to advocate for policy changes and foster healing communities. The agenda is a 10-point plan with three major themes:
Expand Victims’ Rights
- Increase legal protections for victims to prevent job and housing loss while victims are recovering from a crime
- Expand victims’ civil legal services to help victims stabilize their lives after violence
- Ensure dignity, respect, and support for the victims of unsolved crimes
- Expand victim services eligibility to all victims of crime and violence
- Ensure equal access to compensation and services for victims
Ensure More Urgent Help, Less Red Tape
- Reach more survivors in crisis by expanding outreach programs and ensuring programs are delivered in all the places that underserved survivors may frequent
- Fund victims’ compensation to cover the actual costs of recovery and extend deadlines for help
- Ensure trauma recovery services are widely available
- Invest in trusted community-based victim services providers
- Create funding streams to address urgent crises as they happen
“Addressing violence in our communities means recognizing that violent crime is a cycle in which perpetrators frequently start as victims whose trauma has not been addressed. My office has reevaluated who should be considered a victim so that we can expand support and services to individuals touched by crime,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “I appreciate Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice’s tireless advocacy on behalf of survivors, and I look forward to our continued collaboration to ensure that people whose lives have been forever changed by violent crime have access to services that will support their physical and emotional recoveries.”
“As the country recognizes Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we must listen to the voices of survivors, respect their experiences that inform their perspectives, and do all that we can to help them heal,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Survivors have turned their pain to power in many ways, and this includes informing many good policy decisions that we’ve moved forward with in New Jersey, and it is essential we continue to center survivors in our discussions.”
On the federal level, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice urged the U.S. Senate to pass the VOCA Fix Act, bipartisan legislation passed by the House to fix loopholes that have depleted the federal Crime Victims Fund. A 2020 survey of crime survivors across the country found that fewer than one in three victims of violence receive the kind of help they need to recover. The bipartisan VOCA Fix Act will help address this situation by:
- Directing monetary settlements from federal non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the Crime Victims Fund. This change could make an additional $4-$7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to support victims over the next few years;
- Increase the percentage that state compensation programs are reimbursed from 60 to 75 percent;
- Allow states to apply for a no-cost extension for VOCA assistance grants;
- Give states the ability to waive subgrantee match requirements for VOCA assistance grants; and
- Provide additional flexibility for state victim compensation programs to provide
compensation for victims, even if they do not interact with law enforcement.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is also advocating for reforms within states to prioritize prevention and rehabilitation over incarceration, while increasing employment and housing protections and better access to recovery services for crime victims.
To learn more about Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and its fight to shape public safety and policy for crime survivors nationwide, visit www.cssj.org.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 46,000 crime survivors. For more information, visit: https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.