Pennsylvania Attorney General Urges Federal Support for Crime Victims Fund Amid Looming Cuts

Pennsylvania Attorney General

HARRISBURG, PA — Attorney General Michelle Henry of Pennsylvania has rallied a bipartisan group of 41 Attorneys General nationwide. Their collective plea? The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives must authorize bridge funding for the crucial Crime Victims Fund in 2024.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime has issued a warning, highlighting the anticipated devastating cut in funding for victim services grants in 2024. This reduction is estimated to reach a staggering $700 million, significantly impacting last year’s budget.

Attorney General Henry emphasized the commitment of our judicial process to make victims whole again, highlighting the invaluable role of the VOCA Fund in achieving this mission. By channeling money from the offenders responsible for harm directly into resources and services, this fund provides immediate support to crime victims.

“Our judicial process is committed to making victims whole again, and the VOCA Fund is an invaluable tool in achieving that mission,” Attorney General Henry said. “This fund channels money from the offenders responsible for harm directly into resources and services that immediately support crime victims.”

Since its establishment by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the VOCA Fund has served as a lifeline for victim services across all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Notably, the fund’s revenue is generated from convicted offenders, alleviating the burden on taxpayers.

The programs financed by the VOCA Fund offer a wide array of crucial resources for victims and survivors of crime in Pennsylvania. These include individual counseling, emergency shelter, crisis intervention, hotlines, and justice-related assistance. Additionally, the fund supports state compensation programs by directly reimbursing expenses such as medical, counseling, funeral, and relocation costs for crime victims.

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In 2021, Congress passed the VOCA Fix Act, which allows monetary recoveries from federal deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements to replenish the fund. However, despite this critical legislation, the projected 2024 VOCA funding for crime victim service programs is expected to be 41% lower nationwide compared to the 2023 grant awards.

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, emphasized the urgent need for supporting victims and survivors of crime, given the financial strain, trauma, and devastation that violence inflicts on individuals and families across the Commonwealth.

“The financial strain, trauma, and devastation that violence inflicts on individuals and families across our Commonwealth underscores the urgency of supporting victims and survivors of crime,” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.

Unless Congress takes swift action, victim service programs nationwide may face closure, depriving victims and communities of essential support services.

The collective call to action by Attorney General Henry and her counterparts from Alaska to Wyoming goes beyond a mere plea for funding. It serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of crime and the indispensable role of the VOCA Fund in fostering healing and justice. With the clock ticking on Congress to respond, the stakes are high as 2024 looms and the future of victim services hangs in the balance.

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