FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 10, 2013
CONTACT: Kath Cummins
Washington, DC-- By proposing to raise the cap on funds available for victims’ services under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to $800 million, the Obama administration today showed its responsiveness to victims of crime, their families, and the victim advocacy organizations that serve them.
The National Center for Victims of Crime calls on Congress to follow the President’s lead, put victims and their families first, and support an increase in the cap on VOCA funds.
The VOCA Fund, established in 1984, is funded not by taxpayers but by criminal fines and other penalties on federal offenders. These funds are largely distributed via state governments directly to victims and victim service organizations. The Office of Management and Budget projects that the fund will reach $9.5 billion by the end of the year and grow by another $1 billion during the next fiscal year.
The VOCA Fund is critical to ensuring that victims of crime—including financial fraud, sexual assault, stalking, gun violence or other crimes—get the services and support they need to rebuild their lives. By proposing to raise the VOCA cap, the White House acknowledges the need to increase the capacity of victim service organizations to serve victims and the need for enhanced legal services.
The National Center has long called for Congress to raise the cap, and is part of a group of national victim advocacy organizations that have proposed raising the cap to $1 billion this year. This amount maximizes the services and support available for victims while maintaining the future fiscal stability of the fund.
“The increase in VOCA funding is welcome news for victims and victim service providers around the country,” said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. “The President’s budget addresses the critical need for services to a very diverse group of individuals who struggle to rebuild their lives after suffering from life-changing physical, mental, and financial injuries.”
The National Center also applauds the budget’s proposed $20 million increase in funding for victims services in tribal areas. Tribal communities have especially high rates of victimization, which—compounded by their geographic remoteness and an historic lack of attention to tribal victims—makes the need for more victim advocacy and support critical for these communities.
Further, by setting aside 2 percent of the VOCA funds for research and evaluation, the Administration is also stressing the importance of strong research on the needs of victims and of robust evaluation of victim services programs.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led the nation's struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives. Visit www.VictimsofCrime.org for more information.