Washington, DC — This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1652, the bipartisan VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act (VOCA Fix Act) of 2021. This bill addresses an ongoing crisis for survivors and supports vital victim service programs by preventing cuts to programs funded by diminished federal victim service grants. The VOCA Fix Act will direct federal criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the Crime Victims Fund and increases the percentage that state compensation programs may be reimbursed from 60 percent to 75 percent. This legislation is supported locally by SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center and the Cobb Domestic Violence Taskforce in Marietta. 

“We must do everything that we can to fund services for victims across the country. Victims of crime deserve our support to help keep them safe, provide necessary health services, and prosecute criminals,” McBath said. “I was proud to cosponsor this legislation which will support victims of crime and ensure that Georgia is able to continue providing critical programming for crime victims when they need it most.”

The Crime Victims Fund (CVF), established through the Crime Victims Act of 1984, is the primary funding source for victim services nationwide. The fund provides direct services to victims, including paying for rape kit and other forensic medical examinations; physical, mental, and emotional health and safety services; victim advocacy; housing and legal costs; as well as myriad other costs sustained after victimized by crime. Georgia’s FY2021 award will be at a 5-year low, meaning less funding to support critical services for crime victims.  The VOCA Fix Act will redirect monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements that would otherwise be deposited into the General Treasury and the CVF.

In addition, the bill will make critical improvements to victim compensation and services, including:

  • Bolster state victim compensation funds by increasing the federal grant calculation for funding to victim compensation programs from the current 60% to 75% of state-funded payouts;
  • Allow states to request a no-cost extension from the Attorney General, as allowed for other Department of Justice formula grant programs, to ensure states can thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized;
  • Require state VOCA Administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees for the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year;
  • Allow state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their discretion after the ?20% match waiver expires and require state VOCA Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver; 
  • Instruct the Office for Victims of Crime not to deduct restitution payments recovered by state victim compensation funds when calculating victim compensation awards; and
  • Provide flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program. 

This legislation is supported by over 1,000 national, state, and local organizations including the National Children’s Alliance, the National Criminal Justice Association, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of Victim Assistance Administrators, Casa de Esperanza: the National Latin@ Network, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Futures Without Violence, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the National Association of Victim Compensation Board Administrators, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.