A federal fund that helps crime victims pay for medical care, mental health counseling, and funeral costs would shrink by $1.3 billion under the Trump administration’s proposed budget. The proposal also calls for rerouting more than $600 million from the fund to support other priorities. The changes would affect the Crime Victims Fund, the main source of federal assistance for millions of victims of assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse, homicide, and other violent crimes, The Trace reports. The fund, administered by the Justice Department, finances state-level programs that issue direct reimbursement to crime victims, and helps support organizations that provide services like counseling, crisis intervention, and emergency shelter.
The Crime Victims Fund is maintained through the collection of federal criminal fines and penalties. Because those collections change from year to year, the fund’s deposits fluctuate. The fund’s balance is estimated to be $11.8 billion. This fiscal year’s “cap,” or ceiling on the amount of money that can be disbursed, is $2.57 billion. Trump’s budget requests “permanently” removing $1.3 billion from the fund altogether in 2018. It’s not clear where that money would go. The plan also calls for increasing the fund’s annual disbursement cap to $3 billion for 2018. That includes hundreds of millions of dollars redirected to programs that haven’t traditionally been supported by the Crime Victims Fund. Some $445 million would be transferred to violence-against-women prevention programs and $165 million to bolster initiatives like sex offender registration and human trafficking services. While these programs benefit crime victims indirectly, the money to support them has come from other streams of revenue. The victims fund was established in 1984 under the Victims of Crime Act statute (VOCA). Steve Derene of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators said he is worried that the proposed repurposing of victim fund dollars could pave the way for deeper future cuts.