Federal aid to entities that help crime victims could be cut by 55 percent or more next year, warns the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA), which represents the organizations. A just-approved federal budget deal took $1.5 billion from a long-established fund to help the groups. The victim-aid groups had benefited when Congress last year modified a cap on their funding, but the new “uncertainty of sustained funding is already causing a serious disruption in the planning and implementation of using these resources to effectively increase the capacity of existing victim services, to expand access to many additional unserved crime victims, and to invest in outdated infrastructure and technology,” NAVAA says. The fund was created in 1984. It collects money from fines imposed on criminals and sets it aside to pay for services for crime victims.
During the Obama administration, as major banks and corporations paid large sums to settle Justice Department investigations, the fund ballooned from about $3 billion to nearly $12 billion at the end of the 2014 budget year, DOJ tells the Wall Street Journal. This year alone, the Justice Department struck deals that will result in payments to the fund totaling over $5 billion. That included $1.1 billion from Credit Suisse AG for helping Americans hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service; $140 million from BNP Paribas bank for violating U.S. sanctions; and $925 million from Citicorp to settle a probe into the bank's role in rigging foreign currency exchange rates. Two years ago, the fund distributed $745 million for victims services. That jumped last year to almost $2.4 billion, most in grants to state and local groups that provide counseling, aid or other services. The House appropriations bill set this year’s spending level at $2.7 billion. If the $1.5 billion is taken from that, it leaves $1.2 billion, of which about $881 million would go to state victim assistance grants, which would be a cut of 55 percent from last year.