RD367 - Report on Current and Projected Status of Federal, State and Local Funding for Victim/Witness Programs – October 16, 2016

Executive Summary:
There are currently 108 local Victim/Witness Programs and four statewide projects focused on the delivery of services required under Virginia’s Crime Victims Bill of Rights. Services provided by these programs include: explaining to crime victims their rights; assisting them in obtaining protective orders; helping victims apply for compensation; explaining the criminal justice process; accompanying victims to court; assisting victims in preparing victim impact statements; and providing crisis intervention and other services.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) supports Victim/Witness Programs using federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), state General Funds, and state Special Funds accrued from court fees. Local Victim/Witness Programs are located in local government agencies; primarily in Commonwealths’ Attorneys’ and Sheriffs’ offices.

The federal Appropriations Act of 2015 included a provision raising the nationwide VOCA appropriation cap from $745 million to $2.361 billion. This unprecedented increase in the federal appropriation level resulted in significant increases to all state allocations.

In August 2015, Virginia received its federal fiscal year 2015 VOCA Fund allocation totaling $50.3 million. This is more than four times as much as Virginia received in 2014, when the award totaled $11.5 million.

Prior to this award, since FY2007, total funding awarded by DCJS to support local Victim/Witness Programs had increased just 4.8%. Thus, the availability of VOCA funds allowed DCJS to address long unmet needs within local programs, especially the need to increase staffing levels and the need to initiate programs in unserved areas.

In June 2016, the Criminal Justice Services Board awarded over $13.3 million in VOCA funds to support Victim/Witness Programs and the number of VOCA funded positions within those programs increased from 96 to 292.

The number of crime victims served by VOCA supported projects is also projected to increase from 20,488 victims in FY15 to 72,413 in FY17.

General Fund support for Victim/Witness Programs remains important because General Funds:

• Provide a portion of the required 20% match to federal VOCA funds.

• Enable a sustainable expenditure level from the Victim/Witness Special Fund.