Attorney General Bill Lockyer Leads National Effort To Save Crime Victims Services From President's Cuts
(Sacramento) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer today urged Congress to reject a Bush Administration proposal to cut $1.2 billion from the Federal Crime Victims Fund, which directs the fines collected from criminals to aid victims of violent crimes. Lockyer also signed a joint letter submitted by Attorneys General of all 50 states expressing "concern about drastic cuts" and asking Congress to protect funding for vital crime victim services.
"Wiping out the Crime Victims Fund would be a serious blow to the great progress our nation has made over the past twenty years in treating crime victims with the fairness, dignity and respect to which they are entitled," said Lockyer in his letter.
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 the past six years, California has received more than $442 million in grants from VOCA to help victims of violent crimes. Some 4,400 local programs throughout the country depend on VOCA assistance grants to provide necessary services to nearly 4 million victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving, elder abuse, robberies, families of homicide victims and other victims of crime.
"President Bush is serving victims another loss in order to avoid facing the consequences of his irresponsible tax cuts. We should look for ways to fill voids, not deepen them," said Lockyer.
The appeal to Congress coincides with the 25th Anniversary of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 10-16, as well as the fifth annual California Attorney General's Office of Victims' Services Conference in Sacramento on Wednesday, April 13th.
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.
The joint letter was also signed by the Attorneys General of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.
"The proposed cut could not come at a worse time for states and territories," which are facing significant budget problems, the joint AG letter said. "Victims should not be further burdened by having to pay for such services themselves, or worse, forced to go without them."