Crime Victims Fund
VOCA Faces Critical Cuts
The Administration has released its requested FY 2014 spending proposals. The proposal asks to increase the VOCA cap to $800 million (from the 2013 cap of $730 million). $71 million of the increase would be used for specific initiatives:
- $25 million for supplemental victims' services and other victim-related programs and initiatives,
- $20 million for tribal assistance for victims of violence,
- $10 million for victims of trafficking grants focused on domestic victims
- up to 2 percent ($16 million) for research, evaluation or statistical purposes related to crime victims and related programs.
In addition, the Administration is projecting that $60 million will be taken from the Crime Victims Fund for DOJ management and administrative costs.
Taken together, the M&A and new earmarks would reduce the amount available for VOCA-authorized programs to $669 million. The additional $131 million costs means that more than 1.3 million fewer crime victims will receive VOCA victim assistance-funded services.
Exempt VOCA from Sequestration
Under the Budget Control Act, the Crime Victims Fund is subject to sequestration, which the Office of Management and Budget projects will be $832 million in 2014. The Crime Victims Fund, however, is unlike most other federal spending, because:
- the Fund is made up of criminal fines and other offender-based penalties—not tax revenues—solely to support services for crime victims;
- the Fund's dedicated revenues have already been collected, the Fund does not contribute to the nation's debt or deficit; and
- the law requires that any amount in the Fund that is not spent in any year must remain in the Fund to support future victim services. Therefore, sequestering the Fund does not actually cut spending, it merely delays when those critical funds become available to support victim services.
Reps. Jim Costa and Ted Poe, co-chairs of the Congressional Crime Victims Caucus, have introduced H.R. 2239 to exempt the Crime Victims Fund from sequestration. Victim advocates should encourage their Members of Congress to co-sponsor this bill.
Although sequestration does not necessarily remove amounts from the Fund, it does reduce the overall amount available to appropriators which may lower the VOCA cap as well as reduce amounts available for other DOJ victim programs, such as Violence Against Women Act programs.
VOCA-funded assistance continues to decline
Recently released data from the Office for Victims of Crime indicate a continuing decline in the ability of victim assistance providers receiving state VOCA victim assistance funds to provide critical services to crime victims. According to 2012 state reports, a total of 3,486,655 victims of all types of crime received VOCA-funded assistance in 2012. This was 630,000 fewer victims than assisted in 2007:
|Child Physical Abuse||182,298||182,775||477||0.3%|
|Child Sexual Abuse||406,820||374,165||-32,655||-8.0%|
|Adult Sexual Assault||237,047||205,963||-31,084||-13.1%|
|Adults Molested as Children||92,946||60,009||-32,937||-35.4%|
|Survivors of Homicide Victims||115,813||79,719||-36,094||-31.2%|
Funding Cuts Jeopardize Services to Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual AssaultAccording to the Campaign for Funding to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, at least 106,020 fewer victims will receive critical assistance services because of the the 5 percent sequestration cut in federal funding (other than VOCA) for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
- Impact of Sequestration Cuts
- Impact of Sequestration Cuts on DOJ grant programs
- Impact on HHS funding
Impact of Funding Cuts on Sexual Assault Services
A 2012 survey by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) of rape crisis centers revealed that:
• 60% of programs have a waiting list for counseling and 30% for support groups.
• 50% of programs reduced staff in the past year. Over 100 advocates were laid off while 120 positions were left vacant.
• 25% of programs have 1 FTE or fewer to provide direct services.
Impact of Federal Cuts for Criminal Justice ProgramsNational Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) recently reported on its survey of criminal justice practitioners and the possibility of sequestration. It’s major finding is that federal support for criminal justice programs through DOJ funding has decreased by 43 percent over the past two years. [Full Report] Although most responses to the survey were from law enforcement agencies, the survey also included victim assistance funding. Of the 564 respondents who answered this question, 151 checked “victim services” and 105 respondents said they had received a Victims of Crime Act grant in the past three years. Here is an item on the survey from The Crime Report:
Justice Erodes At Grass Roots As Federal Aid Wanes
Failure to resolve the looming budget crisis in Washington could devastate an already strained criminal justice system, suggests a new report from the National Criminal Justice Association and the Vera Institute of Justice. The report, based on a national survey of government and private organizations that got 714 responses, found that U.S. Department of Justice funding to criminal justice agencies and nonprofit service providers has dropped by 43 per cent in the last two years under the impact of the recession. The survey's sponsors don't contend that the survey is scientifically representative, but that it illustrates funding issues being experienced on a state and local level. About 14 per cent of the respondents said the amounts of their grants had been cut by more than half
The report, issued yesterday [10/11/12], also noted widespread fears among agencies and groups on the front lines of the justice system, including police, that cuts in federal domestic discretionary spending which would kick in if Congress fails to agree on a deficit reduction plan before the end of the year could virtually end federal justice funding by 2021. The survey made clear that federal funding for state and local anti-crime efforts is already "at a historically low level," the criminal justice association and Vera said. More than three-quarters of the agencies and providers reported their level of federal aid has been steadily declining. Many have reduced their workforces, blaming the cuts in part on the funding decline. Among the major programs involved are Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners, various federal juvenile delinquency prevention initiatives, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Cornerstone for Justice: Byrne JAG and its Impact on the Criminal Justice System. This report, issued by the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), is a primer on the criminal justice system as seen through the lens of the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program. It describes current innovations in the various segments of the criminal justice system and Byrne JAG's role in spurring those practices. Each section contains statistics and innovative program examples from the states.
NNEDV 2012 CensusThe National Network to End Domestic Violence is excited to share the results of the Domestic Violence Counts 2012, a 24 hour census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services. For the full 2012 report and state summaries please go to www.nnedv.org/census
IN JUST ONE DAY:
- Assisted 64,324 domestic violence victims were served through shelter, transitional housing, and advocacy.
- 35,323 victims were provided with safe shelter.
- 29,001 adults and children received non-residential assistance, such as counseling, legal advocacy and support groups.
- Answered 20,821 hotline calls, over 14 calls every minute.
- Trained 25,182 attendees at 1,162 community education sessions.
Unfortunately, 10,471 requests for services went unmet because of a lack of resources or staffing. On the survey day, 42 percent reported they were unable to provide requested services because of inadequate funding; 30 percent reported they did not have enought staff and 26 percent said no beds were available in their shelter or had money for a hotel stay
From 2006 to 2012, the annual number of adults and children served through domestic violence programs have increased by 34 percent; however, the number of unmet requests for services have increased by 103 percent -- more than doubled! This demonstrates that the capacity to provide these critical services has not kept pace with the needs.
For more information, including the full report with compelling quotes from advocates, state-by-state data summaries, and additional resources, go to www.nnedv.org/census.
For VOCA Assistance Administrators/Staff Only
The 2013 VOCA National Training Conference will be held August 20 - 22, 2013 at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. This conference is open on to managers and staff of each state's designated VOCA victim assistance administrative agency. The Conference is not open to VOCA subgrantees or the general public.
Click here for additional information, including conference registration and hotel room information.