Tester Secures Critical Funding to Help Montana Victims of Crime Recover from Trauma
Senator: “This is a huge win for the victims of violent crime in Montana who rely on the critical services provided by our first-class domestic violence shelters, victim-witness advocates, and other crime victim service groups.”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured a victory for Montana victims of crime with the Senate’s passage of his VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act. This bipartisan legislation will help keep the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) in the black and make an additional $4 to $7 billion of non-taxpayer money available to crime victim service providers over the next few years by allowing fines from non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements to be deposited in the Fund.
“This is a huge win for the victims of violent crime in Montana who rely on the critical services provided by our first-class domestic violence shelters, victim-witness advocates, and other crime victim service groups,” said Tester. “By securing critical funding for these organizations, we’re ensuring that victims of crime in Montana will have ample resources to recover from trauma and continue to get back on their feet for years to come.”
The CVF balance has fallen considerably since 2018 as a result of the Department of Justice’s increased use of deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, the monetary penalties from these settlements are currently deposited into the Department of Treasury’s General Fund. Tester’s bill redirects penalties from these cases to the CVF, protecting its solvency by making billions of additional non-taxpayer money available for these critical services.
Due to the rapidly diminishing balance in the CVF, victim services are already being cut in states across the country, and some programs and services may see close to a 100 percent cut within two years without this legislation. This is especially true in those rural and smaller jurisdictions where the CVF is a vital source of funding. Tester’s bill fixes this issue, making a change known as the “deposits fix” and ensures that the CVF is able to continue providing resources to organizations that are serving victims of violence.
In addition to providing this “deposit fix,” the bill also:
- Increases the percentage that state compensation programs are reimbursed by the federal government from 60 to 75 percent;
- Allows states to apply for a no-cost extension for VOCA assistance grants; and
- Gives states the ability to waive the 20 percent sub-grantee match requirements for VOCA assistance grants at their discretion, and provide additional flexibility for sub-grantees during COVID-19.
The House of Representatives passed this legislation with bipartisan support in March and it now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. This bill is supported by the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Children’s Alliance of Montana, and 19 other domestic violence shelters, victims service providers, and police departments across the state.
Tester has been working diligently to ensure that Montana victims of crime have the resources they need to get back on their feet. He recently secured $5.7 million for Montana victims of crime and has secured a 5 percent CVF set-aside for Tribes since 2018. He has also been a longtime supporter of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and continues to call on the Senate to pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act to continue and improve this critical law. He has led the charge in the Senate to fight the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons crisis.