Reed & Whitehouse Announce $4.2 Million to Support Victims of Crime
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced that the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has awarded grants from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) worth $4.2 million to enhance State Victim Compensation payments that provide financial assistance to victims of crime, including victims of domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking.
Using fines and monetary penalties against criminal defendants who lost at trial, the Crime Victims Fund provides social services and compensation to crime victims without any cost to taxpayers. But in recent years, available funds for the program steeply declined due in large part to greater use of deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements. Monetary penalties associated with these prosecutions are currently deposited into the General Treasury, not the CVF.
To address this issue, Senators Reed and Whitehouse helped pass the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act earlier this year. This new law, which President Biden signed in July, ensures that victims of crime and the non-profit agencies they rely on can access funds to provide needed services in the next few years.
This year, the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety will receive $3,718,574 to provide funds from the Crime Victims Fund to enhance crime victim services in the State. Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) assistance funds are competitively awarded by the State to local community-based organizations that provide direct services to crime victims. Additionally, the Rhode Island Treasury Department is awarded $502,000 to enhance State Victim Compensation payments to eligible crime victims. VOCA compensation funds provide financial assistance to federal and state victims of crime.
“This funding is vitally important to helping victims of crime recover and heal. It can help pay medical bills and funeral costs and cover lost wages or other expenses associated with serious crimes. We enacted a bipartisan law to fix VOCA and make needed funds available at no cost to taxpayers. I will continue working to make our communities safer and hold criminals accountable,” said Senator Reed.
“This federal funding will help Rhode Islanders who are victims of crime get what they need to move forward with their lives,” said Senator Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former Rhode Island Attorney General and U.S. Attorney. In June, Whitehouse attempted to force a vote on the VOCA fix legislation but was blocked by a Republican senator’s objection before the bill eventually passed the following month. “We recently passed a bipartisan legislative fix to replenish VOCA programs at no cost to taxpayers, which will provide a big boost to the local organizations doing the heroic work of supporting victims every day.”
Changes in the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund law include:
- Directing criminal settlements from Federal non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, which are currently deposited into the General Treasury, into the CVF (known as the “deposits fix,” this change would be the most significant and could make an additional $4-$7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to the CVF over the next few years);
- Increasing the percentage that state compensation programs are reimbursed by the federal government from 60 to 75 percent;
- Allowing states to apply for a no-cost extension for VOCA assistance grants;
- Giving states the ability to waive subgrantee match requirements for VOCA assistance grants; and
- Providing additional flexibility for state victim compensation programs to provide compensation for victims, even if they do not interact with law enforcement.