For Immediate Release:
Monday, August 24, 2020
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged Congress to adopt key changes to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) that will provide critical financial support to victims of violent crimes and their families.
“As Attorney General, protecting the people of North Carolina is my highest priority,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “That includes supporting victims and survivors of crime as they rebuild their lives and get the help they need. I urge Congress to reform this critical source of funding for victims in need of assistance.”
In their letter, the attorney generals call on Congress to adopt changes to the Crime Victims Fund, a national fund established by VOCA that supports states’ victim services programs. The fund is the primary funding source for victim services in all 50 states and six U.S. territories. It covers essential direct services and support for victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, including medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, courtroom advocacy, and temporary housing. The fund’s money comes from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments. While deposits have decreased in recent years because of a drop in legal fines and penalties, withdrawals have increased, leaving the fund’s financial health in jeopardy.
The attorneys general are asking Congress to stabilize the fund’s finances and provide more flexibility to grantees by:
- Redirecting fines and fees from corporate deferred and non-prosecution agreements—which were about $8 billion in 2018 and 2019 each—to the fund.
- Increasing the rate of federal reimbursement to the states for victim compensation programs from 60 to 75 percent.
- Extending the amount of time VOCA funds can be spent so state and local organizations can better plan for long-term services.
Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of all other 49 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) played a key role in facilitating this letter.
A copy of the letter is available here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect victims and survivors of crime:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Urges Congress to Pass Legislation to Protect Senior Victims of Fraud
- Attorney General Josh Stein Urges Senate to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act
- Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Attorney General Josh Stein Release Joint Statement Regarding Domestic Violence During COVID-19
- Attorney General Josh Stein: The SAFE Child Act will Protect North Carolina’s Children
- Attorney General Josh Stein Announces Rollout of Powerful, New Tool to Prevent Domestic Violence Homicides
- Stein: The Survivor Act Will Put Rapists Behind Bars