Each of New Jersey’s 21 counties has a victim-witness office, funded through federal grants. In Philadelphia, a coalition of more than 20 nonprofit victim-witness programs relies on the same federal money. The Philadelphia Inquirer says that appropriations cuts being considered by Congress may slash those grants, forcing victim advocates to consider drastic service cuts. Although the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office victim-witness unit is not funded by federal grants, it relies on the coalition agencies to provide services and link crime victims with the help they need. Those agencies would face up to a 40 percent cut by 2010 under the federal reductions.
Aside from the major task of helping victims navigate the court system, the agencies provide transportation and help them get money for groceries and prescriptions. They can arrange for broken locks and doors to be replaced at the homes of burglary victims. They can get hotel stays for victims who are threatened. Their help, prosecutors said, is integral in getting witnesses, especially frightened and reluctant ones, into court.