Senate Passes Bipartisan Bill to Replenish Key Victims of Crime Act Program

Published 4:29 pm Sunday, July 25, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today voted for legislation to shore up funding for the Crime Victims Fund, a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant program that supports state-level programs that help crime victims.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the bipartisan VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (HR.1652/S.611), a measure to refortify the Crime Victims Fund which has experienced declining resources in recent years.

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“Unfortunately, Mississippi is not immune to the troubling increases in crime we’re witnessing across the country even as some advocate against law enforcement.  All crimes produce victims, which makes shoring up the Crime Victims Fund important,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The reforms in this bill will benefit Mississippians by allowing increased funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs and victims service provider grants.”

The Crime Victims Fund does not receive federal appropriations.  It relies on deposits from criminal fines, forfeited appearance bonds, penalties, and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys Offices, federal courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The Justice Office for Victims of Crime Grants administers grants to states and local entities.

The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act would:

  • Direct federal criminal settlements from federal non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the Crime Victims Fund.  This change could make an additional $4–$7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to the Fund.
  • Increase the federal reimbursement percentage to state compensation programs from 60 percent to 75 percent.
  • Allow states to apply for a no-cost VOCA assistance grants extensions.
  • Allow states to waive sub-grantee match requirements for VOCA assistance grants.
  • Provide additional flexibility for state victim compensation programs to provide compensation for victims.

Many crime victims’ assistance groups in Mississippi support the legislation, including the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Mississippi, Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Angel Wings Out-Reach Center of Mendenhall, Gulf Coast Center for Nonviolence of Biloxi, House of Grace Domestic Violence Shelter of Southaven, Natchez Children’s Services; Shafer Center for Crisis Intervention of Hattiesburg, Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center of McComb, and others.