NOTE: Senator Grassley was an original cosponsor of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which established the Crime Victims Fund. He’s first raised concerns about the sustainability of the Crime Victims Fund last year as deposits from criminal penalties and fines have decreased, and is a cosponsor of a permanent VOCA fix to correct the funding stream issue.
I was an original cosponsor of the Victims of Crime Act when the Senate Judiciary Committee developed the legislation years ago. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Senators Durbin, Graham and other Judiciary Committee colleagues this year on amendments to this landmark law.
The principle behind this statute is that fines and penalties collected by the Department of Justice from those who are convicted of committing Federal crimes should be used to help those who are victimized by crimes. Because the Fund relies solely on fines and other assessments paid by federal criminals, not from taxpayers, it does not add to the deficit.
The money in this fund helps at least 6,800 local organizations, like rape crisis centers and child advocacy centers, provide services to millions of crime victims across the country each year. The fund supports crisis hotline counseling or medical care and other services to these crime survivors, plus lost wages, courtroom advocacy, temporary housing and much more.
Since its enactment, billions of dollars have flowed through the Crime Victims Fund to states and communities to help support victim assistance programs. More than three decades after its inception, the fund is still working, but deposits into the fund have declined significantly in recent years. This is an issue that the bill before us, the VOCA Fix Act, would resolve.
The issue stems from federal prosecutors increasing reliance on no- or deferred-prosecution agreements, rather than convictions. The money collected by the Department of Justice in these settlement agreements isn’t attributed to the Crime Victims Fund.
Among other provisions, the bill makes a deposits fix to preserve the Crime Victims Fund. It requires that money from federal no- or deferred-prosecution agreements must go into the fund rather than the General Treasury. The bill also changes the match requirements for state and local grant programs that rely on this statute.
Providing this fix will enable crime survivors in Iowa and across the nation to continue to seek services in their communities. I encourage my colleagues to support the legislation.