Madison – On July 20, with an extraordinary vote of 100 to 0, the U.S. Senate passed H.R. 1652, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (“VOCA Fix”).
This bill, introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin, is now headed to President Biden for his signature into law. It secures billions of federal dollars in victim services funding and will impact over 6,000 local domestic violence shelters, child abuse treatment programs, elder fraud and abuse services, rape crisis centers, and legal services in every U.S. state and territory.
“While there is still so much work remaining to disentangle the funding stream from the criminal legal apparatus, this is a necessary step in ensuring that funding is available at all for our critical services,” said Monique Minkens, Executive Director for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (End Abuse). The Crime Victims Fund (CVF) enables End Abuse to provide vital assistance to services that support survivors of domestic violence. The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated many survivors with abusive partners, and it is more important than ever we ensure they have access to services. Unfortunately, the CVF has faced declining deposits, threatening our ability to support survivors. We applaud Senator Baldwin for identifying a legislative fix to this problem. Senator Baldwin’s solution is the centerpiece of the bipartisan VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act and we are so thankful that this important legislation will now be signed into law.”
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund was created by Congress in 1984 to provide federal support to state and local programs that assist victims of crime. The largest source of federal funding for domestic and sexual assault services in the country, VOCA is funded through non-taxpayer federal criminal fines and fees that are deposited in the Crime Victims Fund (CVF).
Recently, the annually released VOCA funds have declined due to shrinking deposits into the CVF resulting from non-partisan prosecutorial strategies that have changed over the course of the last decade. Reduced CVF deposits result in reduced funds allocated to states for victim services. Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation fixes how the CVF is funded by amending the law to deposit penalties and fines from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements into the CVF. Over time, this will restore billions in funding into the CVF, stabilizing the fund and staving off future cuts to funds that support services to over 6 million victims of all types of crimes annually.