In the year 2013, the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week takes place from Sunday, April 21st through Saturday, April 27th, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crimes in order to inspire our communities to observe the Victims of Crimes Act of 1984 (VOCA).
The Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) was an attempt by the federal government to help the victims of criminal actions through means other than punishment of the criminal. It created a federal victims-compensation account funded by fines assessed in federal criminal convictions, and it established provisions to assist state programs that compensated the victims of crimes. The compensation system is still in existence, having distributed over $1 billion in funds since it began.
The statute, codified at 42 U.S.C.A. § 10601, was a direct result of a task force set up by the Justice Department under the auspices of President Ronald Reagan called the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, the report issued by the task force in 1982 was harshly critical of existing victims-compensation programs. “In many states, program availability is not advertised for fear of depleting available resources or overtaxing a numerically inadequate staff. Victim claims might have to wait months until sufficient fines have been collected or until a new fiscal year begins and the budgetary fund is replenished,” according to the report.
VOCA established the Crime Victim’s Fund, which is supported by all fines that are collected from persons who have been convicted of offenses against the United States, except for fines that are collected through certain environmental statutes and other fines that are specifically designated for certain accounts, such as the Postal Service Fund. The fund also includes special assessments collected for various federal crimes under 18 USC § 3613, the proceeds of forfeited appearance bonds, bail bonds, and collateral collected, any money ordered to be paid into the fund under section 3671(c)(2) of Title 18; and any gifts, bequests, or donations to the fund from private entities or individuals.
The first $10 million from the fund, plus an added amount depending on how much has been deposited in the fund for that fiscal year, goes to child-abuse prevention and treatment programs. After that, such sums as may be necessary are made available for the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to improve services for the benefit of crime victims in the federal criminal justice system, and for a Victim Notification System.
The Office for Victims of Crimes has chosen this year’s theme to be: “New Challenges. New Solutions.” The mission of the OVC’s strategic initiative is called Vision 21: Transforming Victims Services in the 21st century for the new millennium.
According to Joye E. Frost, the Acting Director for the Office for Victims of Crimes, “in spite of all our progress, victims’ rights laws in all 50 states, the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and the more than 10,000 victim service agencies throughout the United States of America–there are still enduring and emerging challenges for victims of crimes in America.”
About 50 percent of violent crimes are not reported, and only a fraction of victims receive the help they need. There are still ongoing investigations to know and find out more about these victims, how to help them in the best way, and how the victims’ services can be targeted to reach every victim. While adapting to funding cuts, globalization, changing demographics, new types of violent crimes, and the changes (both good and bad) brought by technology. These 21st century new challenges call for bold, new solutions.
The promise and commitment of our Vision 21, will pave the way to the ongoing work with victims during the 2013 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, in order to transform victims’ services in the 21st century–Office for Victims of Crime, Joye E. Frost, Acting Director
Photo 1: Child Sex Abuse
Photo 2: Elder Fraud
Photo 3: Human Trafficking For Sex