Updated: Jul 24
A few weeks ago, we sent out an email blast to our supporters and subscribers, asking them to email Senator Mike Crapo to support the VOCA Fix Act (Senator James Risch was already a proven supporter of this measure at the time). Your voices joined forces with thousands of others, and as a result, the Senate has unanimously passed the VOCA Fix Act!
From the National Children's Alliance;
"The VOCA Fix Act was passed by the Senate unanimously, 100-0 with no abstentions. The bill heads to the president's desk, and we are confident he will sign it into law. "Fundamentally, this is about ensuring that kids get the services they need and deserve. The Crime Victims Fund, dangerously low, will now be replenished by making those facing deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements pay for the needs of victims. "Please take a moment to call or email those of your senators and representatives who voted yes on final passage of the VOCA Fix Act, both today in the Senate, and in March in the House, and thank them."
For those interested in the details, the VOCA Fix Act will:
direct federal criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the Fund. This change could add $4 to $7 billion to the Fund over the next few years, stabilizing not only VOCA-funded programs, but the other justice assistance grant programs that rely on the Fund to support the entire DOJ appropriations bill;
increase the percentage that state compensation programs may be reimbursed from 60 to 75 percent;
provide the U. S. Attorney General the ability to issue no cost extensions on VOCA awards;
give states the ability to waive the local match for VOCA assistance grants for the duration of the pandemic; and,
provide additional flexibility for compensation programs to provide support for victims even if they do not interact with law enforcement prior to requesting assistance.
Our Executive Director, Christina Walker, had this to share on the subject:
"Thank you for everything you've done to make this possible from contacting your Legislatures to discussing the importance of best-interest advocacy for children with those in our communities, volunteering as a Child Advocate, and donating to our program to help us provide these critical services."
Edited on July 24th to add:
President Biden has officially signed this act into law, stating "Between 2017 and today, the amount of money in these funds has gone down 92 percent, which has resulted in a 70 percent reduction in victims assistance programs and grants. This means that, for a lot of victims, the help they need isn’t there any longer.
"This fund doesn’t take a dime of taxpayers’ money; it uses fines and penalties paid by convicted federal criminals. However, fines from what are called “non-prosecutorial agreements” or defendant — or “deferred prosecution agreements” did not go into this Victims Crimes Fund in the past."
In closing, I want to thank those angels working on the frontlines to help these victims, especially during this pandemic that’s made the work both more difficult, more in demand, and more dangerous. And I want to thank the advocates who mobilized and bring together these important changes in the law."