Wagner Helps Victims of Traumatic Crimes, Passes Her Legislation To Support Survivor Recovery
Today, the House passed the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act. This bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation will support vital victim service programs by preventing future cuts to already diminished federal victim service grants. Rep. Wagner introduced this legislation in the House on March 8, 2021.
“Violent criminals must pay for their abhorrent crimes and provide just compensation to the victims whose lives they have upended. I have worked with victims throughout my time in Congress and have seen firsthand how important victim service programs are to the recovery process as survivors find their own personal sense of justice. It is a crisis if even one victim can’t get the essential services they need due to decreased funding, and I am grateful we were able to take immediate action to get these victims the services and funding they need to move forward. Here in Missouri, we are expecting a 25% cut to VOCA funds in the upcoming year if this bill does not become law,” said Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO). “I am hopeful the VOCA Fix Act will be signed into law without delay so this vital funding source is replenished and the thousands of Americans who rely on it have confidence they will have our help in their time of need.”
"MCADSV is grateful to Congresswoman Wagner for her continuous leadership on the 'VOCA Fix.' This federal funding is the number one grant source for Missouri domestic and sexual violence agencies to provide life-changing services 24/7," said the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "This bill will stabilize and secure the funding so that agencies do not have to reduce the number of employees or types of help offered to victims."
“The Missouri Coalition Against Trafficking & Exploitation (CATE) would like to thank Congresswoman Ann Wagner and her colleagues for introducing the VOCA Fix Act of 2021. This important legislation ensures victims of crime will have access to much needed services that provide a path to safety and healing,” said the Missouri Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation. “Individuals impacted by human trafficking were forced into numerous traumatic victimizations, many experienced these events over an extended period. Ensuring victims have access to needed trauma informed services is paramount in the healing process. In working to eliminate human trafficking we must provide a safety net of support and the VOCA Fix Act will do just that, allow providers funding to support victims to achieve safety and healing.
“America’s 924 Children’s Advocacy Centers, where we serve more than 338,000 abused kids and their families nationally each year, including more than 8,800 abused kids and families in Missouri, are excited for the House passage of H.R. 1652, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021,” said Teresa Huizar, executive director of National Children’s Alliance, the nation’s largest network of care centers for child victims of abuse. “The Victims of Crime Act has long had bipartisan support as a source of the funding children need to heal and thrive, and we want to thank Rep. Wagner, as well as Reps. Nadler, Fitzpatrick, Jackson Lee, McMorris Rodgers, Scanlon, Dingell and Moolenaar for championing swift passage of this critical fix. We now urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit so that critical dollars are available for the children, families, and communities that need it.”
“State & local prosecutors are proud to join thousands of victims assistance organizations, state administrating agencies, and law enforcement partners in supporting passage of the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act,” said Nelson Bunn, NDAA Executive Director. “This vital legislation will prevent catastrophic cuts to the grant programs that support millions of survivors and provide resources to States to compensate victims as they continue to rebuild their lives.”
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants are the primary source of federal funding for thousands of victim service providers around the country, including programs serving victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and drunk driving. VOCA grants also fund victim compensation, including paying medical bills, covering lost wages, and paying for funeral costs. These critical grants are not taxpayer funded. Instead, they are paid out of the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which is funded, in turn, through federal criminal monetary penalties. Over the past several years, deposits into the CVF have dropped, leading to corresponding cuts in grants to victim service providers.
This bill would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to deposit all monetary penalties, including from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, into the CVF.
In addition, The Crime Victims Fund Sustainability Act of 2021 will make much needed improvement to victim compensation and services, including:
- Bolsters 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;
- Allows 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.
- Requires 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;
- Allows state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their discretion after the aforementioned waiver expires and require state VOCA Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver;
- Instructs the Office for Victims of Crime not to deduct restitution payments recovered by state victim compensation funds when calculating victim compensation awards; and
- Provides flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program.