12.10.14

Leahy Hails Historic Funding Levels For Crime Victims

Support for Violence Against Women Act Programs Also Benefit From Appropriations Agreement

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, December 10, 2014) –Legislation to fund the government through next year includes a substantial increase for critical victims’ support programs championed by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.

Under the Omnibus Appropriations Bill agreement struck between House and Senate negotiators, the Crime Victims Fund, which provides support for crime victims and their families, will be able to reach more victims of crime thanks to a raise in the fund’s cap.  The fund is financed by criminal fines and penalties — not taxpayer dollars — and it is currently capped at $745 million.  Under the funding agreement reached late Tuesday, that cap will now be $2.3 billion, a 200 percent increase.

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the most senior member of the Appropriations Committee, hailed the announcement on Wednesday.  “For years I have urged Congress to show its support for victims of crime.  The Crime Victims Fund represents our commitment to our citizens, and with this funding bill, we are renewing that commitment.  I applaud this important announcement, and I will continue to work across the aisle to protect this Fund and ensure it helps the victims of crime,” Leahy said.

Leahy, a former prosecutor who worked day to day with crime victims, has long urged Congress to raise the cap for the Crime Victims Fund so that it can reach more victims of crime.  Leahy introduced the bipartisan Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act in 2009, and he has also worked to ensure money from the fund goes directly to victims.  Money from the fund supports a broad range of services for crime victims, including compensation for hospital bills, burial costs, or other restitution. 

The Vermont Center for Crime Victims Services (VCCVS) receives funding from the federal Crime Victims Fund.  Among many services supported by the VCCVS, this fund supports the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, a coalition of 14 Member Organizations that offer services like shelter, counseling, and housing assistance throughout Vermont.

Other key programs that support Vermont initiatives received increased funding under this budget agreement.  

Funds for programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act increased in this budget bill over past year’s levels, and a total of $430 million is included in the bill for the Office on Violence Against Women.  Previously, the highest level of appropriations that the Office on Violence Against Women had received was $418.5 million in Fiscal Year 2010.  Funding for sexual assault services, and programs to prevent and respond to assaults on college campuses, both increased over last year’s levels.  Earlier this year Leahy steered through Congress legislation he authored, with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that has strengthened the Violence Against Women Act.  

Funding for victims of trafficking will increase from $14 million to $42 million, nearly three times the previous level. 

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