Drummond urges Congress to assist crime victims, cautions of potentially dire consequences

Attorney General Gentner Drummond is leading a pair of efforts – one a bipartisan group of attorneys general across the nation, and the other an Oklahoma coalition of tribal leaders and district attorneys – asking Congress to provide adequate funding to the Crime Victims Fund so states can properly serve victims of crime.

In one letter sent today to U.S. House and Senate leadership, Drummond and 41 other attorneys general asked Congress to ensure the Victims of Crime Act of 1984’s Crime Victims Fund (VOCA Fund) is replenished to support crime victims, victim service providers and public safety.

Revenue for the VOCA Fund is generated from federal crime offenders, not from taxes. Compared to 2023, the fund balance is projected to be 41 percent lower this year with a $700 million shortfall.

“A decline of that magnitude will have devastating consequences for victims of crime,” the letter states. “Without prompt action to support the VOCA Fund, many victim service programs throughout the country may be forced to close, and the victims those programs serve could be left without services and support, endangering their safety and wellbeing. These burdens are likely to fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable victims, including members of rural, underserved, or impoverished communities.”

Drummond said short-term funding will sustain critical services for victims while the fund is replenished by criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments.

“Many victims depend on this funding for medical care, legal advocacy, lost wages and temporary housing,” Drummond said. “Congress needs to ensure that victims of crimes are supported, which is critical for states’ abilities to prosecute criminals and uphold public safety.”

In a second letter, the Attorney General joined with Oklahoma tribal leaders and Oklahoma prosecutors detailing the impact of the funding shortfall on the state, especially on tribal citizens.

In 2019, Oklahoma tribes received a subgrant totaling $2.61 million from the VOCA grant awarded to the State of Oklahoma to provide direct services to victims. Since that time, grants to Oklahoma have steadily diminished, which has resulted in significantly fewer resources for the state. In 2022, for example, tribes received just under $1 million. Last year, tribes received just $406,246.

“Without sufficient funding, tribal citizens in Oklahoma, especially women, are at a heightened risk of being denied critical victim services during times of great need,” said Drummond.

Joining Drummond in leading the National Association of Attorneys General letter were the Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio attorneys general. Others signing the letter included Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Read the letters here and here.

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