October 26, 2009

Crapo Crime Victims Bill Goes To Full Senate

Protects main funding source for domestic violence, sexual assault victims

Washington, DC - Legislation introduced by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) that protects funds for programs that assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee and is headed for the full Senate. Crapo and Leahy sponsored the Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act to protect essential services to victims under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).

The VOCA law established a dedicated fund comprised of criminal fines and penalties collected that has become a key source of support for local violence and assault response programs. But Crapo noted those funds have come under fire almost every year as Congress redirects these "dedicated" funds from the intended recipients to other unrelated federal programs. The Crapo-Leahy bill would rededicate these funds back to victim support programs.

"These VOCA dollars are critical in maintaining direct assistance to crime victims by funding shelters, counseling and rapid response efforts to sexual assault and violence," Crapo said. "This legislation secures dollars in the VOCA fund. These were never taxpayer-paid dollars in the first place."

"Senator Mike Crapo is a leader in this country for victims of crime. We applaud his sponsorship of the Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act," said Kelly Miller, Legal Director for the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. "This legislation gives victims of domestic violence hope for safety and stability by funding Idaho's domestic violence programs."

Crapo and Leahy introduced the Crime Victims Fund Preservation Act in June, continuing many years of advocacy for the program. The legislation guarantees funding amounts in the VOCA fund through 2014, with $705 million guaranteed for 2010. More than 4,000 agencies nationwide, including many in Idaho, receive funding under the program. Following a unanimous vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the measure now goes before the full Senate, where Crapo will continue to press for speedy consideration and unanimous passage.