BREAKING: Biden Signs into Law Shaheen-Backed Bill to Support Crime Victims FundJuly 22, 2021
**Earlier this week, Shaheen called for passage of the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act on the Senate floor**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), today applauded President Biden’s signature on a bill that she fought to pass in the Senate to strengthen the Crime Victims Fund for the future.
Earlier this week, Shaheen delivered a speech on the Senate floor urging lawmakers to overcome partisan politics and pass the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act. After her speech, the Senate approved the measure unanimously. The legislation redirects monetary penalties from federal deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements into the CVF in order to provide continued support for state victim compensation and assistance programs. Through her leadership on the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen has historically fought to bolster resources for the CVF.
“The Crime Victims Fund makes a real difference in the lives of survivors – especially in New Hampshire – ensuring they have advocates in court, support groups, medical help and emergency shelter. These support programs are essential in helping survivors of trafficking, child abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence process and heal from trauma – especially as rates of violent crimes surged during the pandemic,” said Shaheen. “That’s why President Biden’s move today to sign into law a funding fix for the CVF is so impactful for survivors across the country. We can now work to expand access to vital services in rural and remote areas across our state and the country, ensuring help is within reach for all who need it.”
The CVF is administered by the Department of Justice and provides crime victims and their families with direct compensation for crime-related expenses, such as medical costs and funeral and burial expenses. States also receive CVF formula grant funds to make thousands of awards annually to public and private nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to victims, including counseling and health services and emergency shelter and transportation. The CVF is funded through federal criminal fines, penalties and special assessments. However, deposits into the fund are at a historic low, threatening its survival. This shortage has caused staffing and service cuts for thousands of victim service providers in New Hampshire and across the country that help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and sex trafficking. It is also impacting victim compensation programs, which will need to reduce services that assist victims with expenses like medical bills, counseling, funeral costs, and loss of wages during recovery if funds into the CVF are not stabilized.
Shaheen has led efforts to preserve the CVF. In March, Shaheen and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and urged his immediate review of the CVF given the dramatic decline in deposits into the Fund. Last month, Shaheen questioned the Attorney General on what the Justice Department was doing to prioritize deposits into the CVF.
Through her leadership on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate fighting for legislation and funding to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In the budget resolution passed in February, Shaheen successfully negotiated the inclusion of her amendment expressing support for organizations serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse, which cleared the Senate unanimously. In the American Rescue Plan, funding was included within the Department of Health and Human Services to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. In January, Senator Shaheen and the New Hampshire delegation announced $8,427,680 in funding for New Hampshire organizations to provide emergency housing assistance to vulnerable individuals and those fleeing domestic and sexual violence. She also introduced the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, strongly-supported bicameral legislation to protect domestic violence survivors from gun violence. She repeatedly and successfully adds the highest funding amounts for?Violence Against Women Act?programs in government funding bills.
Senator Shaheen has also led efforts in the Senate to establish basic rights and protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Her bill, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, was signed into law in 2016 and created the first federally codified rights specifically for sexual assault survivors and for the first time allowed survivors the opportunity to enforce those rights in federal court. Shaheen also introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Survivors’ Bill of Rights in the States Act to build on the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act?by incentivizing states to pass legislation that guarantees the survivors rights included in the federal legislation.
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