Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund
The Crime Victims Fund will soon have additional revenues thanks to the passage of H.R. 1652 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021. This is commonly referred to as the VOCA Fix.
President Joe Biden signed the VOCA Fix on July 22, 2021. Passage of the VOCA Fix is a monumental victory for the future of victim services nationally and in Washington state.
But what got us here and what does it mean?
The VOCA Fix redirects federal criminal settlements from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements into the Crime Victims Fund, which will result in more deposits into the Crime Victims Fund over time. Before the VOCA Fix, these funds were deposited into the General Treasury and deposits into the Crime Victims Fund were at the lowest level since 2003.
VOCA funds are distributed to states from the federal Crime Victims Fund, which is comprised of criminal fines, forfeitures and fees. The federal government releases a different amount of money for VOCA each year, based on the amount of funding in the Crime Victims Fund.
With the VOCA Fix, the U.S. Attorney General will be able to issue no-cost extensions on previous VOCA awards. This means that the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy may be able to request additional time to spend VOCA funding from previous years that was unspent. The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) will determine how to distribute these funds if an extension is approved.
While the passage of the VOCA Fix is a good thing for the future of victim services, it will not result in fast changes to the amount of funding available to Washington service providers. It will take time to rebuild the Crime Victims Fund, and it does not affect the funding OCVA has already received. For more information about the current funding reductions, read this blog post on VOCA funding reductions.
The increase in victims seeking assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a real, tangible need for the continued investment in services. OCVA recognizes the importance of VOCA funding in ensuring that victims of crime are met with high-quality services that are trauma-informed, culturally responsive and appropriate for diverse communities.
Thank you for your continued commitment to serving victims and survivors! OCVA will communicate effects to the field as they are known.
If you have additional questions, please contact OCVA@commerce.wa.gov