Carbajal, Local District Attorneys Urge Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Funding for Victims of Crime Act

Santa Barbara, CA – Today, Rep. Carbajal was joined by local District Attorneys in urging the Senate to take up bicameral and bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) by fixing how the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) is funded. The Crime Victims Fund was established to provide funding for victim compensation – including medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs – and critical victim support programs.

The CVF is funded through deposits from federal criminal fines, meaning the balance can vary depending on the cases the Justice Department prosecutes. The CVF balance has diminished in recent years due to greater use of deferred prosecutions and non-prosecution agreements. Monetary penalties from these prosecutions are directed to the Treasury, rather than the CVF. The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act requires the Department of Justice to redirect criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecutions into the CVF. This fix alone would make an additional $4-$7 billion available to benefit crime victims over the next few years.

“The Crime Victims Fund gives local governments the ability to support and compensate the innocent victims of crime. Despite serving as a critical lifeline, this program has been severely underfunded for years,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This commonsense fix has garnered bipartisan support, allows us to continue helping those harmed by crime, and doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime. I implore my Senate colleagues to take up this bill and provide crime victims with the help they need and deserve.”

“VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) is the cornerstone of funding for our local Victim Services Programs. In Santa Barbara County alone, we provide crisis intervention, orientation to the criminal justice system, court support, child advocacy services and victim compensation to more than 4000 victims of crime annually. Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Victims rely upon our Advocates to navigate a system that often dissuades rather than invites engagement.  Engagement in the system and with services can make the difference in long term recovery,” said Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara County District Attorney. “Over 6,000 local organizations rely on funds from VOCA to provide lifesaving direct services to victims of all types of crime annually. Without VOCA funds, our Victim Witness Assistance program would no longer exist, leaving survivors with nowhere to turn.”

“Crime victims are sadly too often forgotten in our current era of justice reform,” said Dan Dow, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney. “Fixing the Crime Victims Fund must be made an immediate priority for our elected leaders in Washington. The Crime Victims Fund helps to ensure that crime survivors all across our nation are able to start down the path towards healing and recovery from the trauma they endured from crime.”

“Grants for victim services have been cut by two-thirds compared to four years ago, and victim service providers are facing further potentially catastrophic cuts if nothing is done to fix the VOCA fund.  In Ventura County, 34 out of the District Attorney’s 37 victim services staff are either entirely or partially funded by $3 million in competitive VOCA funded grants serving 7,000 victims annually,” said Erik Nasarenko, Ventura County District Attorney. “Failing to fix the VOCA fund will compromise justice for these victims and millions more across the nation by leaving it to them to navigate the trauma of crimes like murder, sexual assault, child molestation, domestic violence and other crimes effectively without aid or counsel.” 

Additional Background:
The VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act makes several changes to the CVF funding mechanism, including:

  • Requiring the Department of Justice to redirect criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecutions into the CVF;
  • Increasing the federal grant calculation for funding to victim compensation programs from the current 60% to 75% of state-funded payouts;
  • Allowing states to request a no-cost extension from the Attorney General, as allowed for other Department of Justice formula grant programs, to ensure states can thoughtfully and effectively distribute victim service grants without being penalized.
  • Requiring state VOCA Administrators to waive the 20% match requirement for victim service subgrantees for the pendency of the COVID-19 crisis and one additional year;
  • Allowing state VOCA Administrators to waive subgrantee match requirements at their discretion after the aforementioned waiver expires and require state VOCA Administrators to develop and publish a policy and procedure for obtaining a waiver;
  • Instructing the Office for Victims of Crime not to deduct restitution payments recovered by state victim compensation funds when calculating victim compensation awards; and
  • Providing flexibility for state compensation programs to waive the requirement to promote victim cooperation with law enforcement if good cause is established by the program.

Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.


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