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Perry Joins Effort to End Raid on Crime Victims Fund

WASHINGTON, DC – Since 2000, Washington has diverted billions of dollars that, under federal law, must go to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes. Congress uses this money for other government spending — despite the fact that federal law says money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund may only be used to assist crime victims.  Legislation introduced last week in the U.S. House (H.R 3984, the Fairness for Crime Victims Act), would require the Fund to disburse what it brings in each year to crime victims.

Congress created the Crime Victims Fund in 1984, based on a simple idea: Money the government collects from those who commit crimes should be used to help those victimized by crime. Each year, criminal fines and penalties collected by the federal government are deposited into the Fund – which receives no taxpayer dollars.  The U.S. Department of Justice disburses money from the Fund to States and to victims service groups (such as Child Advocacy Centers, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers) to support victim compensation and assistance programs.

H.R. 3984 is a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Reps Joe Pitts (R-PA-16) and Brendan Boyle (D-PA-13). U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (PA-4) is a co-sponsor. It’s similar to legislation (S. 1495) introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Pat Toomey.

“You know Washington has a spending problem when it’s willing to steal money from victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes to keep the funds flowing,” said Rep. Perry (PA-4). “One of the reasons I opposed the recent federal budget agreement is because it diverted another $1.5 billion in Crime Victim funds for new government spending.”

For example, from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2014, the Crime Victims Fund collected $12 billion, but gave crime victims only $3.6 billion (or 30%). Congress used the $8.4 billion difference for other spending. H.R. 3984 would essentially return the Fund to disbursing what it brings in and thereby increase funding for victims of crime. If adopted, disbursals from the Fund would rise from $745 million in Fiscal Year 2014 to $2.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2016.  Funds for victim service groups (e.g., domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers) will approximately quadruple vs. 2014 levels.

“Systems and agencies serving victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and other violent crimes have historically operated with insufficient resources. This bill will communicate to all victims that they matter and will increase funding for agencies to provide a higher quality of service to more individuals who need us,” said Rick Azzaro, Chief Services Officer with ACCESS-York/Victim Assistance Center/YWCA York.

Rep. Perry is a member of the House Victim Rights Caucus and voted earlier this year for other legislation to support sexual assault victims and give local law enforcement the tools they need to assist these victims. This bill (H.R. 2578) increased funding for programs aimed at preventing sexual assault and helping survivors find justice, including the Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecutions programs.