As Shirley Scafetta sat in a Philadelphia courtroom last year and heard the details of her husband’s murder, two women from the Anti-Violence Project of Philadelphia – one of many such agencies that fear their money could be cut by the Bush administration – sat with her, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “Without them, I’d have no connection. I’d be out on my own,” said Scafetta. “Now they’re telling me that if their funding gets cut, they might not have the time or the resources to be there the whole time. I was really counting on their support.”
Victims’ rights advocates worry that a Bush administration proposal to absorb the fund’s $1.27 billion reserve into the general budget means they will be left high and dry. The administration says crime victims programs will remain funded by incoming fees and forfeitures, and the surplus can be used elsewhere. Still, “if that money gets taken away, there would not be victims’ services in Philadelphia or anywhere else,” said Julie Good of the Anti-Violence Project, who estimated 85 percent of her agency’s budget comes from the fund. “This is at a time when there’s a spike in homicides, and agencies like ours, which provide services to the family members of homicide victims, are so busy.” The White House will be in for a fight in trying to eliminate the surplus. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) says he is “irrevocably opposed” to changes.