Attorney General Ashley Moody and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general called upon Congress Monday to expand funding for the victims of violent crime.
In a letter addressed to Congressional leadership, the coalition expressed concerns over the financial health of the Crime Victims Fund. The fund, according to the letter, is burdened by a decrease in funding. Meanwhile, it also is experiencing an increase of withdrawals.
The fund is intended to help state victim services programs cover the various expenses for violent crime survivors. Expenses can range from medical care and mental health counseling to lost wages, courtroom advocacy and temporary housing.
“Crime victims are often left with hardships in the aftermath of a crime,” Moody said in a news release. “Worrying about paying medical or housing bills, lost wages or property damage as a direct result of crime should not be a burden victims are left to face alone. It is crucial that Congress act now to stabilize the Crime Victims Fund so our office and the offices of my fellow attorneys general can continue to provide financial support to crime victims and their families.”
The coalition offered three recommendations to help stabilize the fund: increasing the rate of federal reimbursement to states for victim compensation programs; redirecting fines and fees from corporate deferred and non-prosecution agreements to the fund; and extending the amount of time VOCA funds can be spent.
Currently, the federal reimbursement rate for state victim compensation programs is 60%. Alternatively, the coalition suggests that Congress reimburse state programs at a rate of 75%.
Monday’s letter was not Moody’s first push for change. Earlier this month, she sent a letter to Sen. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio explaining the importance of increased funding to the Victims of Crimes Act Program.
In that letter, she encouraged the proposed changes to VOCA be included in the next COVID-19 relief bill.