By Racheal Hebert, LCSW-BACS, President & CEO
What is the VOCA CVF Fund?
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fund (CVF or the Fund) is a non-taxpayer source of funding that supports thousands of crime victim service providers. These providers serve millions of crime victims annually and are funded by monetary penalties associated with federal criminal convictions.
Deposits to the Fund fluctuate annually based on the number of successful prosecutions by the Department of Justice. Currently, deposits into the CVF are historically low. This decrease is caused in part by an increase in the use of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, as the associated monetary penalties are deposited into the General Treasury rather than the Fund.
Services and support to victims are being slashed in states across the country, and Louisiana is no exception. Louisiana has experienced a 78.4% decrease in VOCA funds over the past four years.
- In FY 2018, Louisiana received $47,435,241.
- In FY 2019, Louisiana received $31,857,165.
- In FY 2020, Louisiana received $23,490,366.
- In FY 2021, it is estimated that Louisiana will receive $10,243,997.
The rapidly diminishing balance in the Fund has created a desperate situation for service providers like STAR. In this current fiscal year, STAR has received $678,672 in VOCA funds. This funding makes up 32% of STAR’s overall annual budget. VOCA funds cover critical victim services at STAR, such as:
- Salaries for STAR advocates who accompany survivors of sexual assault to the hospital, law enforcement interviews, meetings with prosecutors, and court proceedings;
- Salaries for STAR counselors who provide free and confidential trauma recovery counseling to survivors and their loved ones
- Salaries for STAR counselors who offer weekly support and therapy groups for survivors of sexual trauma
- Operational costs associated with STAR’s 24/7 hotline and in-person counseling services
Without immediate action by Congress, VOCA-funded programs and services will see catastrophic cuts, and in some cases close to a 100% cut, within two years.
We are urging Congress to include the updates to VOCA that are needed to stabilize the Fund in the year-end Fiscal Year 2021 omnibus spending bill.
As an immediate measure, Congress can increase deposits into the Fund by depositing monetary penalties associated with deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF as well as monetary penalties associated with convictions. This is not new spending. It is simply capturing money that would be going into the CVF if these crimes were prosecuted instead of settled. Congress must also increase the federal contribution to state victim compensation funds by matching 75% of state funds instead of the current 60%.
If these updates are not passed by Congress this year, victims across the country, particularly in rural and small jurisdictions, will experience an accelerated loss of services in the coming year—on top of services that have already been cut.
Contact your representatives now and urge them to protect services for victims of crime.