VOCA Funding



Current Status/Action News:

On June 3, 2015, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) introduced S. 1495, the "Fairness for Crime Victims Act of 2015," which would require that the amount made available from the Crime Victims Fund be no less than average amount deposited into the Fund over the previous three fiscal years. The text of the bill is available here.

FY2016

June 11 - The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted the FY 16 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill. Under the Senate Committee's bill, the FY 16 cap would be set at $2.602 billion. However, for the first time ever, a congressional appropriations committee is proposing using the Crime Victims Fund for a number of programs that are not authorized under the VOCA statute:

  • A total of $245 million is transferred to OVW:
    • $215 million for STOP;
    • $30 million for transitional housing.
  • The following $134 million is made available to the OJP Assistant Attorney General:
    • $50 million for victims of trafficking;
    • $16 million for an initiative relating to children exposed to violence;
    • $12 million for Court-appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs;
    • $15 million for "supplemental victims' services and other victim-related programs and initiatives, including research and statistics, and for tribal assistance for victims of violence;"
    • $20 million for Victims of Child Abuse Act programs (i.e. child advocacy centers);
    • $3 million for child abuse training programs for judicial personnel and practitioners, authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act;
    • $18 million for "community-based violence prevention initiatives, including for public health approaches to reducing shootings and violence."
  • To the Director of the Office for Victims of Crime, $52 million "for assistance to Indian tribes only for supplementing victims' services and other victim-related programs and initiatives;"
  • To the DOJ Inspector General, $10 million for oversight and auditing purposes.

These non-VOCA authorized programs total $441 million which would leave $2.161 billion for the core, VOCA-authorized programs. Assuming the funding levels for the other VOCA programs remain approximately the same as in FY 15, it is estimated that, under the Senate Committee's proposal, State VOCA assistance formula grants would be reduced by about 10% from the FY 15 grants.

The bill must still be taken to the floor of the Senate where it could be subject to amendments and then reconciled with the House version. The House version sets the cap at $2.7 billion without any non-VOCA authorized programs.

The Administration’s FY 2016 budget request asks for a VOCA cap of $1 billion, of which $25 million would be used for Vision 21, $20 million for tribal assistance, $10 million for domestic trafficking victims grants and $77 million for Office of Justice Programs management and administrative costs. It is estimated that, based on the Administration's budget request, FY 16 formula grants for state victim assistance programs would be reduced by approximately 70 percent from the estimated FY 15 grants. The proposal also calls for up to 3 percent to be made available to the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics for research, evaluation or statistical purposes related to crime victims and related programs.


Background Documents

(All documents in PDF format unless otherwise indicated in square brackets.)
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Media Coverage

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Background

  • The Crime Victim Fund helps an average of 3.7 million victims of all types of crime every year.
  • The Fund comes from the collection of Federal criminal fines; not taxpayers.
  • Congress has repeatedly pledged that all amounts deposited into the Fund would remain available for victim services.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 is the Federal government's principle means of providing support for programs that serve victims of all types of crime. Each year, Federal criminal fines, forfeitures and special assessments are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund). These offender generated revenues -- NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS -- are used to support these programs:

  • Children’s Justice Act -- to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases;
  • U.S. Attorney’s victim/witness coordinators -- to provide assistance to victims involved in Federal criminal prosecutions by funding 170 FTE United States Attorney Office victim assistance coordinators;;
  • F.B.I. victim assistance specialists-- to help victims during Federal criminal investigations by funding 112 FTE victim assistance specialists;
  • Federal victim notification system -- to provide automated notification to victims of the status of Federal criminal investigations and prosecutions and the offender's status in the Federal prison system;
  • OVC discretionary grants -- to support national scope training and technical assistance and to provide services to victims of Federal crimes;
  • State compensation formula grants -- to supplement State funds used to reimburse victims of violent crimes for medical expenses, mental health counseling, lost wages, loss of support and funeral/burial costs;
  • State victim assistance formula grants -- to support direct victim assistance services -- such as counseling, emergency shelter, rape crisis centers, help in participating in the criminal justice system. Approximately 3.5 million - 4 million crime victims receive these services by more than 4,000 agencies annually;
  • Management & administration (M&A) - For 2012 and future years, Congress directed DOJ to use grant funds to cover its grant M&A.
  • Antiterrorism Emergency Reserve -- to replenish a special $50 milllion reserve to assist victims of domestic and international terrorism and mass violence. The needs for this reserve is demonstrated by Minnesota's request for supplemental compensation funding in response to the Red Lake, MN school shooting

Prior to FY 2000, all of the money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund from the collection of Federal criminal fines, forfeitures and assessments, was allocated the following fiscal year according to a formula in the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) statute. Because of wide fluctuations in the amount deposited, beginning in FY 2000, Congress began imposing a limitation or "cap" on the amount of Fund deposits that could be obligated the following year.

Fiscal Year
Prv. Yr. Deposits
Cap
 
Fiscal
Year
Prv. Yr. Deposits
Cap
2000
$985,185,354
$500,000,000
 
2008
1,017,977,475
590,000,000
2001
776,954,858
537,500,000
 
2009**
896,316,825
635,000,000
2002
544,437,015
550,000,000
 
2010
1,745,677,602
705,000,000
2003
519,466,480
600,000,000
 
2011
2,362,337,940
705,000,000
2004
361,341,967
621,312,500*
 
2012
1,998,220,205
705,000,000
2005
833,695,013
620,000,000*
 
2013
2,795,547,045
730,000,000
2006
668,268,054
625,000,000
 
2014
1,489,682,811
745,000,000
2007 649,631,046 625,000,000  
2015
3,591,493,390
2,361,000,000
* Includes rescissions.
** Does not include $100 million in Recovery Act funding

Congress said it was delaying use of the deposits above the cap in order "to protect against wide fluctuations in receipts into the Fund, and to ensure that a stable level of funding will remain available for these programs in future years." [Conference Report 106-479] Congress also amended the VOCA statute to reflect the preservation of all deposits for future VOCA programs.

The amounts remaining in the Fund are carried over from year to year to be used when Fund deposits are less than the next year's cap. Three times since caps were imposed -- in FYs 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- Congress has relied on this "rainy day reserve" because of insufficient deposits. However, thanks largely to a handful of very large cases, deposits into the Fund have escalated at unprecedented levels.  As a result, the balance in the Fund continues to grow:

Fund Opening Balance (millions)
FY
   
FY
 
2000
485
 
2008
1,730
2001
1,300
 
2009
1,852
2002
1,330
 
2010
3,148
2003
1,311
 
2011
4,801
2004
1,080
 
2012
6,099
2005
1,261
 
2013
8,185
2006
1,307
 
2014
9,531
2007
1,333
 
2015
10.209

This is important because the VOCA statute contains a rather complicated formula that determines how much each  receives each year. State victim assistance grant -- the grants that support thousands of direct victim services -- in effect gets whatever's left over after the other VOCA-authorized programs are funded. As a result, unless the cap is high enough, state VOCA assistance grants are cut as new programs are added or other VOCA-dependent costs increase.

Despite tremendous growth in the Crime Victims Fund balance, lack of adequate VOCA funding means fewer crime victims have access to essential assistance services.   In fact, more than 630,000 fewer victims received VOCA funded services in 2012 than in 2007.

Fiscal Year
VOCA assistance funds*
No. VOCA Funded Agencies
No. Victims Served
2006
395.9
4,397
3,813,128
2007
370.6
4,201
4,116,648
2008
309.0
4,358
3,780,068
2009
363.8
4,020
3,526,736
Recovery Act
47.5
568
38,307
2010 412.1 3,730 3,609,421
2011 428.1 3,780 3,760,235
2012 379.7 3,879 3,486,655
* in millions

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Contact Congress

Call, email or fax your Congressional delegation and urge them to fully support crime victims by raising the VOCA cap. Find out how to contact your Senator and Representatives (often just by entering your zip code) by going to these web sites:

Connect to their offices through this toll-free number: 1-800-247-2971

For media inquiries about VOCA and the Crime Victims Fund: contact: NAVAA Executive Director Steve Derene at steve@navaa.org or call 608-233-2245.