The U.S. Justice Department announced awards totaling more than $3.4 billion to fund thousands of local victim assistance programs and to help compensate victims in every state for crime-related losses. Distributed through two grant programs administered by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), the awards surpass every other single-year grant amount in the program’s 34-year history, DOJ said. The grants are supported by the Crime Victims Fund, a repository of federal criminal fines, fees, and special assessments. The fund does not include tax dollars.
More than $3.3 billion of the funds are being awarded to states under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Assistance Formula Grant Program and will support local government and community-based victim services. In 2017, VOCA grants aided more than 6,700 local organizations. Over the last two years, VOCA-funded programs have reached more than 5.2 million victims, providing services ranging from emergency shelter and transportation to crisis counseling, long-term therapy, and civil legal assistance, DOJ said. Victim compensation programs operating in all 50 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia will get almost $129 million to reimburse victims and survivors for medical fees, lost income, dependent care, funeral expenses, and other costs. This compensation is often a lifeline to victims who face enormous financial setbacks on top of the emotional strife they experience. “Americans suffer from millions of violent acts every year, and only a fraction of victims get the help they so desperately need and deserve,” said OVC Director Darlene Hutchinson.