President Biden Signs Axne-Backed Bill to Bolster Resources for Crime Victims
Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined President Joe Biden at the White House today for the signing of bipartisan legislation originally cosponsored by Axne that will make critical improvements to victim services programs that receive grant funding through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
VOCA programs offer direct compensation and services to those who have been impacted by crimes like domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, trafficking, and more.
Funding for these grants come from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF), which uses no taxpayer dollars and is instead funded by federal criminal monetary penalties. However, CVF deposits have dropped recently as a result of changes in policies at the Department of Justice, threatening cuts to grants that fund victim service and compensation programs, including help paying lost wages, medical bills, and funeral and burial expenses.
The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021, which was signed into law earlier today, would prevent cuts to VOCA programs and help sustain these vital programs at the state level.
“Victim assistance and compensation programs offer critical resources – including financial resources – for Iowans who have been the victim of serious crimes. The need for these services has outpaced recent funding, and cutting these critical programs would only hurt our communities,” said Rep. Axne. “I am proud to see this straightforward fix that I supported signed into law today to prevent disastrous cuts to VOCA, shore up the CVF, and offer much-needed flexibility for states and victim service providers looking to help those in need.”
Specifically, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 would:
- Require DOJ to deposit all monetary penalties, including those from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, into the CVF.
- Strengthen state victim compensation funds by increasing the grant calculation for victim compensation programs from 60% to 75% of state-funded payouts.
- Require state VOCA administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees until one year after the end of the pandemic. State VOCA administrators would also be permitted to create a procedure to waive these requirements at their discretion after the initial waiver period expires.
- Allow states to request a no-cost extension from the Attorney General to ensure they can effectively use victim service grants without fear of penalty.
- Provide flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement for good cause.
Last December, Rep. Axne urged congressional leadership to ensure VOCA programs did not face funding cuts by expanding deposits to the CVF and ensuring those deposits would be made available to victim service providers.