Bill Ensures Monetary Penalties From Deferred Prosecution And Non-Prosecution Agreements Go Into Crime Victims Fund, Just Like Penalties From Convictions
WASHINGTON – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements after the U.S. Senate passed the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021. The bill was introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in the House. The bill already passed the House in March with a wide, bipartisan majority (384-38). The bill now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants are the largest source of federal funding for programs providing services for victims of all types of crimes. Victims of Crime Act victim assistance funds can be used to support services for victims and survivors of gun violence, including crisis intervention, safety planning, mental health counseling, case management, and peer-to-peer support. However, the federal Crime Victims Fund that provides funding for VOCA grants has been depleted, and states are experiencing enormous cuts to their awards, putting victim services programs at risk.
This simple fix ensures that monetary penalties from deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements go into the Crime Victims Fund, just as monetary penalties from convictions do, and makes other vital updates to the law.
“VOCA grants help community-based organizations heal families and communities while preventing future gun violence, but due to a technicality, these services were in a precarious position,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We are thankful for Senator Durbin and Congressman Nadler’s leadership in making sure that Congress made this overwhelmingly bipartisan fix, protecting these crucial services for years to come.”
“This is the rare piece of legislation that will have a massive impact on supporting survivors of gun violence, domestic violence, and other crimes without spending a penny,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This is a victory for gun violence survivors, one we hope Congress will follow with further action on other common-sense gun safety measures.”
Everytown Research has released two reports on Victims of Crime Act funding. Last year, Everytown released a report, A Fund for Healing, detailing how VOCA victim assistance funding can be used for gun violence victim services. Earlier this year, Everytown released a report, Hurdles to Healing, on state victim compensation programs and how they can be fixed to increase equity and access for gun violence survivors.