The FY 2016 omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the President raised disbursements from the Crime Victims Fund (also called the VOCA Fund) from $2.361 billion to $3.042 billion. Much of that increase – $379 million – was transferred for other federal programs to address violence against women, and another $10 million was designated for the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General for monitoring activities. This would leave an effective VOCA cap of $2.65 billion for authorized programs.
Under the distribution formula, this funding will translate into a 15.5 percent increase for state VOCA assistance programs over FY 2015.
The National Center for Victims of Crime commends congressional appropriators and leadership for recognizing the needs of crime victims and survivors and disbursing VOCA funds in FY 2015 and 2016 at levels to permit states to fund outreach and response to many previously underserved victims of crime.
The National Center remains concerned about ANY use of VOCA Funds for purposes outside of the uses authorized by statute.
Text of the omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2016
VOCA in a nutshell: The Crime Victims Fund, also called the VOCA Fund, was created by the bi-partisan Victims of Crime Act of 1984 as a mechanism to fund compensation and services for the nation’s victims of crime through fines and penalties on federal criminal offenders. Each year, Congress sets a limit, or “cap,” on disbursements from that fund, and the bulk of that money goes to states for victim compensation and victim assistance programs. In FY 2015, that amount was $2.36 billion, or roughly equivalent to the previous year’s collection. This represented a dramatic improvement over the FY 2014 cap of $745 million.
The National Center works to advance laws and policies that create resources and secure rights and protections for victims at the federal and state levels.
Our policy priorities include:
Crime Victims' Rights
The National Center supports meaningful rights for crime victims in the criminal, juvenile, civil, and administrative justice systems.
One area of focus has been improving the collection of crime victim restitution. This is an important issue to the National Center and we will continue to support measures to ensure victim restitution. Access our restitution toolkit.
Federal Crime Victims' Rights
The National Center supports efforts to strengthen the rights of federal victims of crime. Read our testimony regarding needed improvements and our letter supporting the Justice for All Act reauthorization.
Maximizing the use of DNA for Justice
The National Center also supports increased use of DNA evidence and increased funding for such efforts. The Justice for All Act reauthorization, mentioned above, includes such important funding.
The National Center is also part of the Rape Kit Action Project (RKAP), a collaboration with Natasha’s Justice Projec, and the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN). We have joined forces to address our nation’s untested sexual assault kit (SAK) problem by promoting laws that ensure unsubmitted rape kits are accounted for and analyzed and new rape kits are sent for testing in an expeditious manner.
We have also developed a sample law, “Sexual Assault Survivors DNA Justice Act,” and a section-by-section analysis. These materials are intended as resources for jurisdictions looking to reform laws relating to DNA evidence and protections for victims of sexual assault.
For more on the use of DNA for victim justice, visit our DNA Resource Center.
Emerging Issues and Underserved Crime Victims
The National Center is committed to improving our nation's response to underserved crime victims, including those with disabilities, those who are homeless, immigrant victims, victims in tribal communities, and others.
Read our report, Why It Matters: Rethinking Victim Assistance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Victims.
Read our full 2013-2014 Policy Agenda.