Monday, August 10, 2009

Crime Victims Act Introduced in Congress

"On Thursday, July 30, Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Crime Victim Rights Caucus, introduced H.R. 3402, 'The Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act of 2009.'"

This is big news for organizations like Witness Justice as it will ensure that more funds are set aside to support critical crime victim services. The Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act would establish a minimum VOCA cap through 2014 and still leave a substantial balance in the Fund to ensure ongoing stable services.

VOCA stands for the Victims of Crime Act. "It is a federal law, enacted in 1984, that provides financial assistance to support a variety of services and activities to assist victims of crime."

VOCA established a Crime Victims Fund, supported by the very people who create the need for victim assistance - the criminals. As part of their penalty, convicted federal offenders pay fines to the Crime Victims Fund that is then turned over to services that benefit the victims. "Most of the funds are distributed to states who use those funds to provide financial support to local direct victim service providers, such as domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and victim-witness assistance programs." No taxpayer dollars are involved.

In 2010, the minimum amount to be allocated to the Crime Victims Fund is set at $705 million. The cap minimum will increase by 23 percent each year for the next four years. By 2014, the VOCA cap would be $1.6 billion.

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