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Justice Department Awards Over $1.2 Billion in Grants to Assist, Compensate Victims
WASHINGTON – The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, has released awards totaling more than $1.2 billion to state victim assistance and compensation programs to fund thousands of local victim assistance programs nationwide and to provide millions in compensation to victims of crime. Over $1 billion in victim assistance funding goes to local direct service programs, including children’s advocacy centers, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, human trafficking and elder abuse programs, civil legal services, crime victims’ rights enforcement, as well as victim advocate positions in prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement departments. State victim compensation programs will receive over $186 million to supplement the state funds that assist victims’ with financial burdens such as medical fees, lost income, dependent care, funeral expenses and other costs resulting from crime.
“Victim assistance and compensation programs are lifelines to millions of crime survivors, giving them the emotional and material support and the financial means to begin the path to healing,” said Amy L. Solomon, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, during the 2021 National Joint Conference for VOCA Victim Assistance and Compensation Administrators at which these awards were announced. “The funding we are making available today, and the additional resources we will be sharing with communities in the coming weeks, will support service providers and their allies as they perform the vital work of helping survivors through the trauma of victimization.”
The state victim assistance and compensation programs will use over $3 million of that funding to implement statewide technology programs to enhance victims’ access to services and foster innovation and efficiency in the provision of services; and support the annual training event for state administrators of the victim assistance and compensation programs and their staff.
OVC expects to award an additional $27 million in the coming weeks to support elder abuse and hate crime victims, survivors of female genital mutilation and cutting, technology innovations to serve crime victims, increased trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and programs designed to serve victims in hospitals and marginalized communities.
OVC will award $90.3 million through the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside, funds designated by law from the Crime Victims Fund to support the provision of services to crime victims in American Indian/Alaska Native communities. Under the Set-Aside, OVC is also supporting tribal grantees with capacity building, training, and technical assistance ($6.8 million) and updating the Tribal Resource Tool ($200,000) which maps the availability of victim services in tribal communities. An additional $2.9 million will be awarded under the Children’s Justice Act Partnership to Tribes for enhancing the handling of cases of criminal child abuse and neglect.
The awards were released on the heels of the Department’s announcement that crime victim service programs will benefit from a new law — VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 — that directs more money to be deposited into the federal Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), the source of funding for thousands of local victim assistance programs and state victim compensation programs. The new law maximizes the Fund’s resources through new measures that allow the Department to consider project extensions for grant recipients; relax program-based match requirements to ease financial burdens on subgrantees; and not require that restitution be deducted when calculating state compensation funding.
“At OVC, we are continuously seeking to expand service options for crime victims, survivors and their families so they can choose support that best meets their needs,” said OVC Director Kristina Rose at the same conference. “This funding furthers that mission and supports the provision of essential and lifesaving assistance.”
The Fund was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 and today supports thousands of local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. In fiscal year 2020, VOCA victim assistance grantees served more than 9 million survivors, including individuals who received services more than once, and VOCA victim compensation programs paid out more than $361 million in claims.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.