All 56 State and Territorial AGs Call for Increased Funding and More Flexibility
By Attorney General Communications
Attorney General Lynn Fitch today joined a coalition of state and territorial attorneys general representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories urging Congress to adopt key changes to the Victims of Crime Act that provide critical financial support to victims of violent crimes and their families.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the attorneys general call on Congress to adopt changes to the Crime Victims Fund, a national fund that supports state victims’ services programs. The recommendations will stabilize the Fund’s finances and provide more flexibility to grantees who are providing services to victims and their families.
“As your Attorney General, I remain steadfast in my commitment to help victims of crime recover from and overcome the physical, emotional, and financial suffering they have endured,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “Today, I joined attorneys general across our country to urge Congress to expand funding to ensure victims are receiving the care they deserve and accessing critical tools to empower victims and their loved ones as they recover.”
The Fund, established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (“VOCA”), is the primary funding source for victim services in all 50 states and six U.S. territories. Deposits to the Fund originate from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys' Offices, federal courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Fund covers the expenses of 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.
In 2015, Congress increased the cap on distributions to the Fund, allowing 2.5 million more victims to receive support. According to the letter, while “deposits have sharply decreased in recent years due to a decline in the fines and penalties recouped from federal criminal cases, withdrawals have increased at a rapid pace.”
The coalition makes three recommendations to promote the sustainability of the Fund, and preserve access to programs and services:
Joining Mississippi in this Massachusetts and Montana-led letter are state and territorial attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) played a key role in facilitating this letter.
If you are a member of the media and have an inquiry, please contact Colby Jordan here.