Gov Kemp announces an increase in victim’s services funding

Scales of Justice with the word justice over it.

Governor Brian Kemp announced this morning that he has directed the Office of Planning and Budget to “increase funding for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (CJCC) Victim’s Services grant using $13.2 million in remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds” allocated to the state.

The federal government has cut the funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) steadily since 2019.

Among other things the cuts in federal funding caused Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady to seek approval from the Cobb County Board of Commissioners (BOC) to use county funds for eight full-time and 1 part-time victim advocate positions in the District Attorney’s Office. The funds were necessary to fill the gap left by the federal cuts. The BOC approved the additional funding at its November 14 meeting.

“Once again, the federal government is failing to deliver on promises made to the people of Georgia,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “While the Biden administration has made the unfortunate decision to shortchange victims of violent crime, I’m proud that the state is able to step in, fund this vital program, and provide the support these individuals need.”

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According to the announcement, “Federal cuts to the program amount to a $19.8 million reduction in funding for Georgia, compared to FY 2023.”

The funds from VOCA are used by non-profit organizations and local governments to fund programs that offer services to victims of crime, including “domestic violence shelters, domestic violence community-based programs, sexual assault centers, human trafficking programs, child advocacy centers, court appointed special advocates, culturally specific programs, hospital-based violence intervention programs, elder abuse programs, and prosecution-based victim-witness assistance programs.”

The Cobb DA’s office has been aggressive in its victims advocacy programs, including the Family Advocacy Center that has utilized VOCA funds for its initiatives.

The funds have been reduced under both the Trump and Biden administrations since 2019.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) wrote on its website:

In federal Fiscal Years 2015-2018, Congress released substantially larger sums from the CVF.

This funding assists millions of victims of crime each year. However, since 2019, the VOCA funds released annually have declined because of shrinking deposits and subsequent declines in the CVF balance.

The declines are due to prosecutorial strategies that have changed over the last decade and are not a partisan issue. When deposits into the CVF are reduced, the amount allocated to states for victim services is reduced.

About VOCA

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) is administered by the Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The OVC wesite describes VOCA as follows:

Led by Director Kristina Rose, OVC is committed to enhancing the Nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.

Established in 1988 through an amendment to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984, OVC is charged by Congress with administering the Crime Victims Fund (the Fund). Through OVC, the Fund supports a broad array of programs and services that focus on helping victims in the immediate aftermath of crime and continuing to support them as they rebuild their lives. Millions of dollars are invested annually in victim compensation and assistance in every U.S. state and territory, as well as for training, technical assistance, and other capacity-building programs designed to enhance service providers’ ability to support victims of crime in communities across the Nation.

The complete press release from Governor Kemp

Here is the complete press release from Governor Brian Kemp:

For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Gov. Kemp Announces Increased Funding for CJCC’s Victim’s Services Grant
Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced he has directed the Office of Planning and Budget to increase funding for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (CJCC) Victim’s Services grant using $13.2 million in remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for FY 2024.

This follows significant cuts by the federal government to the Crime Victims Fund, also known as Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds, despite a continued and heightened need for services as a result of increases in crime during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Victim’s Services grant supports nonprofit organizations who experienced economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. This additional allotment brings the total amount of ARPA funding dedicated to this grant since its inception to $68,237,210.“Once again, the federal government is failing to deliver on promises made to the people of Georgia,” said Governor Brian Kemp.

“While the Biden administration has made the unfortunate decision to shortchange victims of violent crime, I’m proud that the state is able to step in, fund this vital program, and provide the support these individuals need.”Federal cuts to the program amount to a $19.8 million reduction in funding for Georgia, compared to FY 2023.

The additional funding provided by Governor Kemp’s directive will provide continued assistance to over 200 non-profit organizations and local governments that offer services to victims across the state which would’ve been negatively impacted.

Those organizations include domestic violence shelters, domestic violence community-based programs, sexual assault centers, human trafficking programs, child advocacy centers, court appointed special advocates, culturally specific programs, hospital-based violence intervention programs, elder abuse programs, and prosecution-based victim-witness assistance programs.

Victim service providers may provide a vast array of life saving and supportive services and referrals, including but not limited to: 24/7 crisis line response, 24/7 emergency shelter, case management, short- and long-term housing assistance, resources for financial assistance, counseling, legal assistance, medical services, victim compensation, children’s services, transportation, employment services, and parenting/educational services.To read more on VOCA funding through CJCC, click here.
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