Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Tuesday, April 12, 2005.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Fifty State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Reject Budget Cuts for Crime Victim Services

Fund assists nearly four million U.S. crime victims -- and scores of Iowa programs.

Attorney General Tom Miller and Attorneys General of all fifty states submitted a joint letter to Congress today to express "concern about drastic cuts" of more than $1.2 billion from the Federal Crime Victims Fund that is used to provide direct assistance to victims of violent crimes.

"The Administration's proposal for the FY 2006 budget to remove $1.27 billion from the Crime Victims Fund would have a devastating impact on our ability to support victims of crime," the Attorneys General said in their letter. On March 25, Attorney General Tom Miller sent a similar letter to the Iowa Congressional delegation urging them to reject the budget cuts.

The Federal Crime Victims Fund was created by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA). VOCA funds come entirely from collections from federal criminal fines, forfeitures and special assessments - not from taxpayers. Through grants to state victim compensation programs, victims of violent crimes throughout the country have been able to get help for medical care, mental health counseling, funeral and burial expenses, and other vital services.

"Some 4,400 local programs depend on VOCA assistance grants to provide necessary services to nearly 4 million victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving, elder abuse, robberies, families of homicide victims and other victims of crime," said the Attorneys General letter to Congress. "VOCA is the only federal grant program that supports direct assistance services to victims of every description."

The appeal to Congress coincided with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 10-16.

Miller's March 25 letter to Iowa's Congressional delegation spelled out how important the Fund is to Iowa: "Last year in Iowa, $1.6 million from the Crime Victims Fund was used to compensate nearly 5,000 victims of violent crime for their direct, out-of-pocket losses - for example, medical costs of an assault not paid by a victim's insurance, or counseling costs for survivors of a murder victim. Last year in Iowa, an additional $3.8 million from the Crime Victims Fund was used by 90 victim-service agencies all over the state to assist nearly 29,000 victims - for example, providing shelter or support to victims of domestic violence, rape, or child abuse. About 90 percent of the Fund is used for such efforts in the states," Miller's letter said.

Miller's March letter said cutting the federal VOCA fund would be "a betrayal of our commitment to assisting the innocent victims of crime....It would say to crime victims: Your anguish, your suffering, and your needs are a low priority in Washington. If the Crime Victims Fund rescission remains in the final federal budget, victims of crime will suffer yet another indignity."

The letter today from the fifty state Attorneys General asked Congress to protect funding for vital crime victim services and assure the future availability of these monies to the Crime Victims Fund. The letter also was signed by the Attorneys General of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The VOCA Crime Victims Fund is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs. Although the Administration's proposed federal budget includes VOCA funding of $650 million for fiscal year 2006, all other monies remaining in the fund and any new monies collected in fiscal year 2006 would be eliminated. As a result, starting in 2007, there would be no money readily available for state victim assistance programs, crime victim compensation grants, or for federal personnel who provide victim services.

"The proposed cut could not come at a worse time for states and territories," which are facing significant budget problems, the letter said. "Victims should not be further burdened by having to pay for such services themselves, or worse, forced to go without them."

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