AG Gansler Calls on Congress to Increase Funding for Crime Victims
Joined by 50 Attorneys General; cap should be raised to $1 billion
Baltimore, MD (May 8, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today called on Congress to increase the cap on the Crime Victims Fund to at least $1 billion so victims can access the services they need. The Attorney General, along with 50 other state and territorial Attorneys General, delivered their appeal in a National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) letter sent to Congress this morning.
"Raising the cap will help more Marylanders who've suffered severe injury or loss as a result of becoming a victim of crime," said Attorney General Gansler. "This is not an economy or tax issue. The money has been collected by the criminal justice system and is just waiting to be put to good use."
The Crime Victims Fund was created as part of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) and is funded entirely through collections from criminal fines, special assessments and other penalties paid by federal criminal offenders. These non-taxpayer revenues have already been collected and deposited into the Fund, with a projected $7.4 billion balance for fiscal year 2012.
In Maryland, VOCA funding supports advocacy and other services for victims of crime through local State's Attorneys' offices, nonprofit agencies that help children and adult victims of violence, assault and sexual abuse, family crisis centers and support programs at several hospitals. For example, in 2011 the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention distributed more than $7.6 million in VOCA funds to over six dozen Maryland agencies and nonprofits to assist victims.
Every year, state VOCA victim assistance grants provide vital direct assistance that supports more than 4,000 agencies nationwide in providing services to an average of 3.7 million crime victims, including those from assaults, robbery, gang violence, domestic violence and survivors of terrorist acts. VOCA helps victims with financial assistance for medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages and funeral and burial costs.
Congress placed a spending limit on annual Fund obligations but promised to retain all amounts in the Fund exclusively to support crime victim services. State VOCA assistance in 2012 will actually be cut, in large part due to the imposition of new federal management and administrative costs. Critical programs will be funded in 2012 at a lower level than they were in 2006.
"With the demonstrated need for increased funding and more than enough money in the Fund, now is the time to raise the cap on the Crime Victims Fund and release additional money for the purpose for which Congress intended," the NAAG letter reads. "We respectfully request a 2013 VOCA cap of at least $1 billion to support core VOCA-authorized programs without any new earmarks, set asides or uses of the Fund."
A copy of the NAAG letter can be found here: http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php