AG Hunter Urges Expanded Funding for Crime Victims

Mike Seals - August 24, 2020 11:30 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a letter to Congressional leadership, asking both chambers to adopt key changes to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) that would provide critical financial support to victims of violent crimes and their families through the Crime Victims Fund (CVF).

The letter, signed by all 56 state and territorial attorneys general, says deposits into the Crime Victims Fund have sharply decreased in recent years due to a decline in the fines and penalties recouped from federal criminal cases, while withdrawals from the fund have increased at a rapid pace.

Attorney General Hunter said the CVF provides essential services to victims.

“This is the primary funding source for victim services after a crime,” Attorney General Hunter said. “These critical resources include medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, courtroom advocacy and temporary housing, among others. Without proper funding, we are risking lives. The bipartisan coalition of my attorneys general colleagues and I encourage Congress to adopt our recommendations to stabilize the CVF, and provide more flexibility to service providers, who help victims and their families.”

Deposits to the CVF originate from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The CVF covers the expenses of essential direct services and support for victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime.

The following are the recommendations by the attorneys general:

  • Redirect fines and fees from corporate deferred and non-prosecution agreements to the CVF: The Department of Justice increasingly uses deferred and non-prosecution agreements to resolve corporate misconduct. In 2018 and 2019, recoveries resulting from these agreements were about $8 billion each year.
  • Increase the rate of federal reimbursement to states for victim compensation programs: The CVF currently reimburses state programs that provide financial assistance to victims at a rate of 60%, the remainder is usually financed through fines and fees in state courts.
  • Extend the amount of time VOCA funds can be spent: VOCA requires recipients to spend grants within a four-year period. The coalition asks Congress to extend the period of funding availability so state and local organizations can better plan and predict funding for long-term services.

Read the letter, here: https://bit.ly/2EpIWl8.

 

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