RD339 - Report on Current and Projected Status of Federal, State, and Local Funding for Victim/Witness Programs 2020 – 2021
In fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021, there were 110 local Victim/Witness programs and three statewide projects focused on the delivery of services required under Virginia’s Crime Victims Bill of Rights (Virginia Code § 19.2-11 et seq.). Services provided by these programs include: explaining to crime victims their rights; assisting victims 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) provides funding support to Victim/Witness programs using federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant funds, state general funds, and state special funds accrued from court fees. The grant awards are based on a funding formula that DCJS developed with the input of local programs and stakeholders. Local Victim/Witness programs are housed in government agencies, primarily in the offices of Commonwealth’s Attorneys and Sheriffs.
Between FY 2007 and FY 2016, total funding awarded by DCJS to support local Victim/Witness programs increased just 4.8%. However, beginning with the federal Appropriations Act of 2015, each state’s VOCA victim assistance formula allocation was significantly increased, with Virginia’s allocation increasing more than four-fold. 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 to initiate programs in unserved areas. Unfortunately, if current national trends continue, the increased VOCA allocations may return to pre-2015 levels (i.e., be insufficient to keep pace with need) in the coming years.