PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Sitler/Janice Fitzsimons
Phone: (302) 577-8314
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Date: April 12, 2005
ATTORNEY GENERAL BRADY LEADS FIGHT FOR VICTIM FUNDS
Federal Fund Assists Nearly Four Million Crime Victims Nationwide
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General M. Jane Brady, along with the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and California, were joined by all state Attorneys General today when they submitted a joint letter to Congress to express "concern about drastic cuts" of more than $1.2 billion from the Federal Crime Victims Fund that is used to provide direct assistance to victims of violent crimes. The letter was also signed by the Attorneys General of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The appeal to Congress coincided with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 10-16, the theme of which this year is "Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are."
The Federal Crime Victims Fund was created by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA). VOCA funds come entirely from collections from federal criminal fines, forfeitures and special assessments - not from taxpayers. Through grants to state victim compensation programs, victims of violent crimes throughout the country have been able to get help for medical care, mental health counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and other vital services.
"In Delaware, we depend on VOCA assistance grants to provide necessary services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving, elder abuse and robberies, as well as families of homicide victims and other victims of crime," said Attorney General Brady. "VOCA is the only federal grant program that supports direct assistance services to victims of every description."
The VOCA Crime Victims Fund is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs. Although the Administration's proposed federal budget includes VOCA funding of $650 million for fiscal year 2006, all other monies remaining in the fund and any new monies collected in fiscal year 2006 would be eliminated. As a result, starting in 2007, there would be no money readily available for state victim assistance programs, crime victim compensation grants, or for federal personnel who provide victim services.
"These programs are funded by the offenders themselves. Cutting these funds will not improve the federal budget, but it will hurt the only federally funded direct services to victims. Victims should not be short-changed by those whose primary responsibility should be the protection of the citizens they serve," said Brady.