WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed into law the Victims of Crime Act fix to sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act, legislation U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) helped introduce to shore up the depleted resources of the Crime Victims Fund and ensure survivors of sexual violence get the support and assistance they need. This new law will prevent drastic cuts to New Hampshire programs that support crime victims.
“I have been proud to champion this legislation that averts a truly disastrous situation by providing critical reinforcement to the Crime Victims Fund and VOCA programs,” said Rep. Kuster. “As founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, I have talked with countless survivors about how critical it is to have support as you heal and rebuild your life after experiencing trauma. Our victim service providers in the Granite State, including the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Granite State Children’s Alliance, do incredible work with the VOCA dollars they receive, and the impending shortfall in VOCA resources would have had a devastating impact on them and the survivors they assist. I applaud my colleagues in Congress for advancing this common-sense fix in a bipartisan way, and appreciate President Biden quickly signing the bill as it reached his desk.”
Established by VOCA in 1984, the Crime Victims Fund is administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and was created to provide financial support to state and local programs that help victims of crime. The Fund also assists crime victim compensation programs in every state, so that survivors of sexual violence and other crimes can seek relief for lost wages, medical costs, counseling, and other expenses stemming from assaults and abuse. By using money collected from federal criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, and other fees collected by U.S. Attorney’s Offices, federal courts, and the bureau prisons, the Fund operates completely without taxpayer dollars.
These sources of funding have declined in recent years, but the demands on the Crime Victims Fund have only grown. As a result, victim assistance grants have been cut by two-thirds compared to just three years ago, leaving victim service providers to face catastrophic cuts in their VOCA grants. The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act rectifies this crisis by redirecting monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements to the VOCA fund and increasing the federal government’s contribution to state victim compensation funds. Had VOCA funding to the Crime Victims Fund and the state funds not been restored through this law, New Hampshire VOCA Grant Administrators anticipated a 20 percent cut in resources in the fiscal year 2023, followed by an additional 25 percent reduction in the fiscal year 2024, and a further 20 percent cut in the fiscal year 2025.
Rep. Kuster is the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, which works to raise awareness and advance solutions to the challenges posed by sexual assault and violence. The Task Force’s areas of focus include K-12 education, campus sexual violence, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training. Congresswoman Kuster has long been a champion for survivors of sexual violence, sharing her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor and joining with 17 other Members of Congress to read Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial — which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers.