The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) to provide Federal funds in support of victim assistance and compensation programs around the country and to advocate for the fair treatment of crime victims. OVC administers formula and discretionary grants for programs designed to benefit victims, provides training for diverse professionals who work with victims, and develops projects to enhance victims' rights and services. Its mission is to help provide victims with justice and healing.
A major responsibility of OVC is to administer the Crime Victims Fund, which is derived not from tax dollars, but from fines and penalties paid by Federal criminal offenders. Nearly 90 percent of the money collected each year -- $530 million in 1996 -- is distributed to states to assist in funding their victim assistance and compensation programs, which are the lifeline services that help many victims to heal. Federal victim assistance funds help to support over 2,500 local victim services agencies, such as domestic violence shelters, children's advocacy centers, and rape treatment programs. Compensation funds provide reimbursement to victims for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from crime, including medical and mental health counseling costs, lost wages, and funeral expenses.
In addition, OVC sponsors trainings on a variety of victims' issues for many different professions, including victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, the clergy, and medical and mental health personnel. Training on victim-witness issues is also provided for some 70 different Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, and the National Park Service.
OVC's mission includes providing direct services to people victimized on tribal or Federal lands, such as military bases and national parks. OVC maintains an emergency fund to assist victims of Federal crimes with needed services, such as temporary shelter and travel expenses to court. The agency also sponsors victim assistance programs in Indian Country, including the establishment and training of multidisciplinary teams to handle child sexual abuse cases and provide comprehensive victim services.
Through discretionary grants, OVC has initiated many innovative projects that have had a national impact. The OVC Trainers Bureau brings top experts to local communities at no cost. The OVC Resource Center responds to thousands of callers via an 800 number and provides extensive information and materials on a range of victims' issues. OVC has also funded important reports on civil legal remedies for victims, model antistalking laws, exemplary corrections programs that assist victims and train victim advocates, and protocols for handling offenses on tribal lands. In addition, OVC has developed numerous training curricula addressing subjects such as hate crimes, elder abuse, and the role of the clergy in assisting victims. Other OVC funded projects include videotapes that educate children about testifying in court and crisis response teams that assist communities following mass violence.
Thus, OVC accomplishes its mission of fostering justice and healing for crime victims in many different ways: through direct services, training programs that reach diverse professionals across America, demonstration projects with national impact, and the compilation and dissemination of promising practices in victims' services that can be replicated throughout the country.