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Urgent Action Needed: Tell Congress "Don't Cut $1.1 Billion from Victim Service Grants!"

The Senate recently released its appropriations bills, and the bill that funds the Department of Justice contains a MASSIVE 40% cut to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) release. This is on top of a 25% cut the prior year. All told, if the Senate gets its way, VOCA victim service grants will have been cut 74% over the last two years. The situation is dire!

The reason for this huge cut is that the non-taxpayer-funded pool of money VOCA grants are pulled from (the Crime Victims Fund) is running dry. If deposits into this pool of funding aren’t stabilized, grants for future years will be cut even further. VOCA is funded by monetary penalties from federal criminal prosecutions, and prosecutors are increasingly entering into deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements instead. Congress must shore up the Crime Victims Fund by ensuring federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are treated the same way as penalties resulting from criminal convictions - that they go to serve and compensate crime victims. This fix was included in the COVID-19 relief packages that passed the House in both May and September, and it must be signed into law.

We need your help immediately! Congress has an opportunity to save victim service grants by including this fix in their omnibus appropriations bill - the bill that they need to pass by mid-December to keep the government open. They should also include the fixes laid out in this letter, signed by more than 1,400 victim service organizations, government agencies, and prosecutors’ offices.

They’re working on the omnibus appropriations bill RIGHT NOW, so your calls can’t wait. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them the following:

  • A $1.1 billion cut to Victims of Crime Act grants would be CATASTROPHIC for local programs. If you represent a local victim service provider, tell them how these cuts would affect your ability to serve your communities.
  • The cuts are the result of record low deposits into the Crime Victims Fund.
  • Your Senator/Representative must reach out immediately to their colleagues on the appropriations conference committee and tell them to:
    • Include language in the omnibus appropriations bill to shore up the Crime Victims Fund by redirecting financial penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements that would otherwise go into the General Treasury into the Crime Victims Fund;
    • Increase VOCA funding for Fiscal Year 2021; and
    • Increase the Federal match for state victim compensation funds to 75%.

You can find your Senators and their contact information HERE and your Representative and their contact information HERE. If you have specific contacts in your Members of Congress’s offices, please reach out to those contacts! You can also contact your Members of Congress by email and social media (and share the sign-on letter), but please make the phone call first!

For more information, contact Rachel Graber (rgraber@ncadv.org).

Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 8:21 AM
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