WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has awarded a grant from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) worth $4,912,000 to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office 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. In July, President Biden signed into law Brown’s legislation to strengthen the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) by fixing how the CVF is funded. Brown’s legislation, the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act, will redirect monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF to increase funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs.
“We have an obligation to help survivors and our communities recover from violent crimes, abuse, and other criminal activity. While these funds are good news for Ohio, there’s still more work to do,” said Brown. “That’s why, earlier this year, I worked with my colleagues to make sure the Crime Victims Fund is on solid ground, bringing more resources for survivors and the organizations that serve them. I’m continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that Congress is doing all we can to support survivors and communities across the country.”
VOCA established the CVF, which provides grant funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs. Grants are awarded to states, local governments, individuals, and other entities by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office for Victims of Crime. The CVF does not receive appropriated funding; instead, it receives funding through deposits from criminal fines. And as a result, deposits fluctuate annually based on cases that the Department of Justice prosecutes.
Deposits into the CVF are historically low, and the decrease is 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.
The bipartisan, bicameral VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act will strengthen VOCA and preserve the CVF by amending how the CVF is funded. Critical changes in the 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.