RD360 - Report on Current and Projected Status of Federal, State and Local Funding for Victim/Witness Programs – October 16, 2017

Executive Summary:

There are currently 110 local Victim/Witness Programs and three 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) grant funds, 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.

Between FY2007 and FY2016, total funding awarded by DCJS to support local Victim/Witness Programs increased just 4.8%. Beginning with the federal Appropriations Act of 2015, all state VOCA victim assistance formula allocations were significantly increased. The availability of increased VOCA funding has 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. In June 2017, the Criminal Justice Services Board approved level funding to maintain all grant funded programs. New programs were also established in the counties of: Bath, Buckingham, Franklin, and Richmond.

The number of crime victims served by VOCA supported projects also increase from 20,488 victims in FY15 to 61,533 in FY17.

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

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

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

• Compensate for any declines in federal VOCA allocations or the state Victim/Witness Special Fund balance.