Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Crime Victim Assistance Funds Available for Cities

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Crime Victim Assistance Funds Available for Cities

Article excerpt

Funding and technical assistance is available to communities wishing to improve or expand victim assistance efforts.

The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) established the Crime Victims Fund to serve as a major funding source for victim services throughout the country.

The fund is supported not by tax dollars, but by fines, penalty assessments, and bond forfeitures collected from convicted federal offenders. About 90 percent of VOCA funding goes directly to the states to support victim compensation and local victim-assistance programs. Most states make awards on a competitive basis, and any local agency serving crime victims is eligible to compete.

Mayors, city council members, and law enforcement leaders are using these funds to hire victim/witness coordinators and, in larger areas, to establish victim assistance units throughout the criminal justice system.

We're also seeing a growing number of smaller criminal justice agencies partnering with community non-profit agencies who obtain VOCA funding to assist these departments in providing crisis response, information and referral, and other supportive services. While many of the latter models were started to provide support and advocacy to domestic violence and sexual assault victims, there is a growing trend for these agencies to work with law enforcement, in particular, to provide services for victims of all violent crimes.

The advocates have access to law enforcement records and work in tandem with the police in responding to the needs of victims of violent crimes.

Through VOCA funding, community organizations have been able to support law enforcement by providing victims on the scene crisis intervention, information and referral services, follow-up contacts, assistance with obtaining shelters/safe houses and emergency financial assistance, and assistance in filing victim compensation claims. …

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