Chapter 21, Section 11

Funding for Crime Victim Services

Abstract: Services for crime victims began more than two decades ago as a volunteer supported, grass roots effort. During the last decade, new funding has become available to support the development and expansion of crime victim programs. The number of crime victim programs has increased from 2,000 to more than 7,000 programs since 1986. Although the public and private support for crime victim programs has increased, the demand for services continues to exceed the resources available. To ensure continued expansion, innovative and more stable funding sources must be developed.

Learning Objectives: Upon completion of this chapter, students will understand the following concepts:

1. The major source of funding for crime victim service programs.

2. How funding patterns at the federal and state level have influenced the development of victim services.

3. Innovative funding methods for supporting crime victim services.

4. A comprehensive model of victim services that has received significant community financial support.


Since the emergence of the first crime victim service programs in the early 1970's, adequate, stable funding has been a persistent problem. The crime victims' movement has at its roots -- volunteer- initiated services that were created by victims and victim advocates to assist victims of rape and domestic violence. The allocation of LEAA funding for prosecutor-based victim/witness programs in 1974 provided the foundation for broad-based governmental support. In the last two decades, support for victims' services has grown to include a wide range of public (community, state, and federal governmental levels) and private sector sources.

The results of a 1985 survey (Roberts, 1990) of 184 victim and witness assistance programs (the majority of which were criminal justice-based programs), indicated that the programs received funding from a host of sources. These included: federal and state grants, state, county, and city revenues, and a variety of private sources (United Way, churches, Junior League, local businesses and corporations, hospitals, and private foundations and donations.)

This pattern of multiple funding sources for crime victim services has continued today. It is reflective, in part, of the growing demand for victim services and the fact that no single source can meet the demand for the vast array of services that millions of crime victims need today.

Victims of Crime Act Funding

The creation of the Crime Victims Fund, authorized by the Victims of Crime Act in 1984, has greatly increased the amount of federal funding available for crime victim programs. Since 1985, VOCA funding has increased from $68 million to more than $233 million in 1995. Growth in the fund has enabled OVC to award more than a billion dollars in grants to benefit crime victims, through assistance, compensation, and training. VOCA funds have been used to support a growing number of victim assistance programs. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 community-based programs served crime victims in 1986; in 1995 more that 7,000 programs served victims of crime. Of the programs funded in 1995, approximately 2,500 programs received VOCA funding.

Information that VOCA-funded programs provide to the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) suggests that the vast majority of federally supported crime victim assistance programs obtain funding from a variety of sources and utilize volunteers to augment the efforts of staff. The average amount of a program's VOCA grant award is less than $20,000, representing only a small portion of the average program budget.

States have also allocated a significant amount of (general revenue, offender fines, etc.) state funds to support crime victim assistance services. OVC's most recent Report to Congress suggests that states provided $670 million in 1989 and more than $700 million in 1990 and 1991 funding levels. By providing matching grants that are based on a percentage of prior year compensation payments to victims, VOCA created an incentive for states to develop and expand their crime victim compensation program. Responding to this incentive and an increasing demand for crime victim compensation, states without compensation programs created them and states with existing programs expanded them.

Gradual increases in compensation funding have been seen since the first VOCA grants in 1985. In addition, an increasing number of states enacted legislation that authorized the use of criminal fines for victim compensation programs. Today, the majority of states utilize criminal fines as the sole source of compensation, and several more use fines for partial support.

In addition to VOCA funding, several other programs have been created by federal legislation to address a variety of victim issues. In 1986, the Family Violence Prevention and Treatment Act created funding for shelters for battered women and law enforcement training on the issue of domestic violence. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act has provided funding for child abuse programs and the Children's Justice Act of 1986 has supported systemic changes in the handling of child abuse cases in the criminal justice system.

Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act, enacted as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VAWA), provides for improved prevention and prosecution of violent crimes against women and children, in addition to creating new legal remedies for certain victims of violent crimes motivated by gender, and significantly increasing the amount of federal funding available to support service programs. The following highlights the major provisions found under VAWA and provides an overview of funding opportunities, beginning with the 1996 fiscal year. If a more detailed description of any of the following provisions is needed, the reader is encouraged to refer to the Act for further clarification. VAWA includes the following provisions.

Safe Streets for Women:

Federal penalties for sex crimes which requires the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend its sentencing guidelines for sex offenders, and allows for penalties up to twice the time otherwise authorized; mandates financial restitution to victims by defendants convicted of federal sex crimes, including sexual exploitation and other abuses of children; and authorized monies for federal victim-witness counselors for the prosecution of sex crimes.

Law enforcement and prosecution grants to reduce violent crimes against women which authorizes monies to states, Indian tribes and local governments to improve law enforcement, prosecution and victim services in cases of violent crimes against women, including sexual assault and domestic violence.

Safety for women in public transit and public parks with funding for increased security in public transportation systems, and for the reduction of violent crime in national parks, urban parks and recreation areas, with priority to areas with the highest rates of sexual assaults.

New evidentiary rules whereby victims' past sexual behavior or alleged sexual predisposition are no longer admissible in civil or criminal proceedings involving sexual misconduct.

Assistance to victims of sexual assault with authorized funding for rape prevention and education programs; the development of training programs to assist personnel in treating released sex offenders; the treatment, counseling, information and referral for homeless, runaway and street youth at risk of sexual abuse; assistance to victims of child abuse, including advocates, judicial training, and televised testimony; and also requires the Attorney General to study and evaluate state measures to propose model legislation providing for the confidentiality of communications between sexual assault or domestic violence victims and their therapists.

Safe Homes for Women:

The creation of a national domestic hotline with authorized funding. (1-800-799-SAFE; 1-800-787-3224 if hearing-impaired.)

Interstate enforcement with federal penalties for persons who travel across state lines with the intent to injure spouses or intimate partners and for persons who travel across state lines with the intent to violate a protection order, and violates such orders; requires financial restitution; and provides the victim with an opportunity to be heard in court regarding the danger posed by pretrial release of the defendant.

Arrest policies in domestic violence cases with authorized funding for grants to states, Indian tribes and local governments to implement mandatory arrest or pro-arrest programs to: improve tracking domestic violence cases, increase coordination among police, prosecutors and the judiciary in cases of domestic violence, strengthen legal advocacy programs, and to educate judges about domestic violence.

Shelter grants, youth education, community programs on domestic violence, family violence prevention and services act amendments, and confidentiality for abused persons in which the following is provided: authorization for the funding of battered women's shelters; the creation of model programs to teach youth about domestic violence; the creation of community programs on domestic violence intervention and prevention by non-profit organizations; and, a requirement that the U.S. Postal Service protect the confidentiality of domestic violence shelters' and abused person's addresses.

Data and research funding to develop a research agenda to increase understanding and control of violence against women; requires the Attorney General to study and report how states may collect centralized databases on the incidence of sexual and domestic violence within a state; and, requires the Centers for Disease Control to study the incidence and cost to health care facilities of injuries resulting from domestic violence and to recommend strategies for reducing both.

Rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement which authorizes funding to rural states and Indian tribes to improve the prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse cases and to increase prevention strategies and victim services.

Civil Rights for Women (Title IV - subtitle C) establishes a federal civil rights cause of action for victims of gender-motivated crimes of violence.

Equal Justice for Women in the Courts Act provides education and training for judges and court personnel in State and Federal courts by authorizing the State Justice Institute to award grants to develop, test, present and disseminate model programs for use by states and Indian tribes in training judges and court personnel in the laws of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes of violence motivated by the victim's gender; encourages the study of gender bias in the federal courts; encourages the Federal Judicial Center to include information on gender bias in the courts in its educational programs, and to gather and disseminate reports and materials issued by the gender bias task forces.

Violence Against Women Act Improvements provides for pretrial detention in sex offense cases, increased penalties for sex offenses against victims younger than sixteen, payment for testing of sexually transmitted diseases, limited HIV testing of defendants, a report on the revision of sentencing guidelines for the intentional transmission of HIV, enforcement of restitution through suspension of federal benefits; study of campus sexual assaults, a report on battered women's syndrome and its use in criminal trials, a study and report on the confidentiality of victims' addresses and, a report on record keeping relating to domestic violence.

National Stalker and Domestic Violence Reduction provides for access to federal crime databases by civil and criminal courts for use in domestic violence and stalking cases; and provides for the inclusion of stalking and domestic violence information into crime databases, with funding to improve the entering of such data to states and local governments.

Protections for Battered Immigrant Women and Children permits battered immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens and legal residents who have immediate relative status to self-petition for legal resident status and to proceed with their petition; and permits battered immigrant spouses and children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, and parents of battered children of U.S. citizens and legal residents, residing in the U.S. for at least three years to obtain suspension of deportation, if they currently are deportable, if deportation would result in extreme hardship to the alien or the alien's parent or child.

Sentencing Provisions (Title XXVIII) which requires the U.S. Sentencing Commission to establish guidelines that provide sentencing enhancements for offenses that are determined, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or the object of a crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.

Protection of Privacy of Information in State Motor Vehicle Records (Title XXX) which requires, except for specific exemptions, personal information obtained by State departments of motor vehicles not to be disclosed or made available to any person or entity, and where released outside of permissible guidelines, punishable by civil and criminal penalties.

First Time Domestic Violence Offender Rehabilitation Program (Title XXXII - Subtitle I) which provides that a defendant convicted for the first time of a domestic violence crime to be sentenced to a term of probation if not sentenced to a term of imprisonment, or where granted parole or supervised released, the mandatory participation in an offender rehabilitation program that has been approved by the court in consultation with a State coalition Against Domestic Violence, where services are available within a 50-mile radius of the defendant's legal residence.

Admissibility of Evidence of Similar Crimes in Sex Offense Cases (Title XXXII - Subtitle I) amends the Federal Rules of Evidence to allow, in a prosecution for sexual assault or child molestation and in civil cases concerning sexual assault or child molestation, the introduction of evidence of a defendant's commission of another offense or offenses similar to the one of which he or she is accused.

Additional provisions of VAWA:

(Highlights are based on the (September, 1994) Violence Against Women Act Overview written by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Washington, D.C..)

Violence Against Women Act Funding for Fiscal Year 1996

The Violence Against Women Act offers new funding for programs that address the needs of victimized women. In 1995, states were eligible to receive approximately $426,000 in new federal funds for law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services addressing violence against women. In FY 96, appropriations for the Violence Against Women Act have increased to $228 million, with $53 million appropriated to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and $175 million appropriated to U.S. Departments of Commerce, State and Justice.

There are three key categories of funding for VAWA appropriated by Congress for FY 1996. A brief summary of 1996 appropriations is as follows:

Grants to Combat Violence Against Women

In 1996, $130 million has been appropriated for the "STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grants," with a total of $774 million authorized for FYs 1996-2000 to:

The funding formula provides four percent for grants to Indian tribal governments; a base amount of $500,000 to each state; and remaining funds distributed to states based upon population ratios. Each state must allocate 25% of its funds to support law enforcement programs, 25% to prosecution programs, and 25% to nonprofit, nongovernmental victim services programs.

Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies in Domestic Violence Cases

Twenty-eight million dollars are appropriated for FY 1996, with a total of $120 million authorized for FYs 1996-1998 to establish a discretionary grant program to insure policies that treat domestic violence as a serious criminal offense. Grants will be awarded to:

domestic violence;

Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Enforcement Assistance

Seven million dollars are appropriated for 1996, with $30 million authorized for 1997-98, to implement, expand and establish cooperative efforts and projects among law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocacy groups, and other related parties to investigate and prosecute incidents of domestic violence and child abuse; to provide treatment and counseling to victims of domestic violence and child abuse; and to work in cooperation with the community to develop education and prevention strategies directed toward such issues.

These, and other federal funding sources, have helped to support the expansion of services for crime victim services across the United States. In addition, a remarkable increase in state and local support for crime victim services has been seen over this same time period. Even with these increases, and a substantial amount of private sector support, the demand for victim services has continued to outpace the development of the service system. To learn more about these or other funding opportunities under the Violence Against Women Act, contact: Violence Against Women's Grant Office, 633 Indiana Avenue, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20531(202) 307-6026.

Innovative Approaches to Fundraising

for Victim Services

Many local victim service organizations have become very creative in raising funds to support their worthy programs and services. Among them are:

A Model Approach to Stable Funding

In Jacksonville, Florida -- through the leadership of an elected official, City Councilman Eric Smith, and other crime victim advocates -- the first free-standing facility for comprehensive crime victim services center was established in 1991. The mission of the Jacksonville Victim Services Center is:

To provide crime victims, survivors, and their families with counseling for mental, emotional and physical trauma, resulting from criminal victimization within Jacksonville, Florida.

The history of the Center is unique. The development of the Center followed the analysis of a study commissioned in 1982 by the City Council and the Fourth Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office, to identify victim service needs and develop a plan for a Victim Service Center. With the study complete, the City of Jacksonville established a position dedicated to providing crime victim services an allocated $25,000 in 1983. By 1985, the City's funding for victim services had increased to $190,000 and a Victim Service Division within the Department of Human Services was created. Throughout the late 1980's services continued to expand and the appropriations increased to more than $500,000 in 1990. Capitalizing on broad community support, the construction of a new facility designed for the purpose of meeting the needs of Jacksonville's victims of crime was completed in 1993. The support for the Center has steadily grown and the services provided have expanded tremendously. Local funding for the Center is currently near $900,000. Staff of the Center screen 2,300 police reports monthly for appropriate outreach and work with 1,400 victims each month. As a result of their assistance to victims, the City's crime victims were awarded approximately $526,000 in crime victim compensation in 1991.

The Center has established a wide range of services for victims. The philosophy of the City's approach is to establish crime victim services in such a way that crime victim services become an essential part of the "infrastructure of the community," not an afterthought funded through sporadic or discretionary funding mechanisms. The Center has become an integral part of the community service system.

Critical Elements of Success in Establishing

The Jacksonville Victim Services Center

1. A community-wide assessment of the needs of crime victims was conducted.

2. A comprehensive services approach was recommended and adopted.

3. Key community leaders supported the Center, e.g. elected officials, law enforcement, victims advocates, etc.

4. Interagency cooperation was ensured by formal agreements and city ordinances.

5. Financial support from the City of Jacksonville has been stable and steadily increasing.

6. Center staff have constantly sought feedback from victims and service providers, and have been open to change and new ideas to expand services.

7. The Jacksonville Victim Services Center has gained the support of the press and other media in the community.

8. The Jacksonville community has begun to think of victim services as a necessary part of services in the community. Victim services have become part of the "infrastructure" of community services upon which all citizens of Jacksonville can depend.

Cause-related Marketing

A popular trend that links volunteer agencies with the private sector of America is cause-related marketing. This approach to fundraising involves a partnership with (usually) a corporation that lends its personnel and professional services to a non-profit organization or professional field, resulting in increased public awareness of an issue, as well as increased funding support for important services.

With cause-related marketing initiatives, a corporation or other entity (such as a Chamber of Commerce, national civic organization, etc.) works with a non-profit organization to develop a plan-of-action with specific goals. Such goals might include:

Benefits of Cause-related Marketing

For the private sector, cause-related marketing:

For victim service providers, cause-related marketing:

Examples of Cause-related Marketing:

The concept of cause-related marketing has already had a powerful impact on America's victims' rights movement:

Increasing the Fundraising Skills of

Victim Service Professionals

Private sector fundraising has become increasingly important as a source of support for victim service programs. The following tips will help service providers to become more effective fundraisers for their organizations:

Identifying Corporate, Foundation, and

Grant Funding Sources

Victim service providers or victim assistance program administrators with responsibilities for seeking and obtaining program funding sources may also wish to visit their local library; contact professional organizations; or review publications specifically designed to highlight funding opportunities.

Many local libraries house reference materials for fundraising or identifying funding sources that may be helpful. For example, directories used by grant-writers, business and corporate directories, and The Foundation Center's listing of private philanthropic funding agencies may provide useful information.

Some professional organizations provide their members with information on funding opportunities, while The National Society of Fundraising Executives, with chapters located nationwide, offers its members the use of its fundraising resource center monthly and quarterly publications. (1-800-666-FUND.)

Professional fundraising publications often provide the fundraiser with information about available foundation and grant funds, with an emphasis on the funding source's primary funding interests and geographical requirements. A subscription to these publications is normally required. A sampling of professional publications includes: The Chronicle of Philanthropy (1-800- 347-6969), Foundation & Corporate Funding Advantage (1-800-220-8600), and The Public Assistance Funding Report (1-800-666-6380).

Focus on Innovation:

Elected officials are often an untapped resource in local and state program development and fundraising. And example of the skills, dedication and resources elected officials can bring to program development and fundraising are highlighted in the article below written by Eric Smith, Esq. Mr. Smith is the President of the Jacksonville, Florida City council and has been active in the victim's movement for more than two decades. He was instrumental in founding and securing the steadily increasing community funding for the Jacksonville Victim Services Center.

A Local Elected Official's Perspective

On Creating and Funding Comprehensive Victims Services

by Eric Smith, President

Jacksonville City Council, Florida

A couple of decades ago, United States Senator Mike Mansfield astutely made an important observation when he said: "The greatest failure of the criminal justice system in America today is its utter disregard for the rights of innocent victims of violent crime." Undeniably much progress has been made; yet in the sophisticated environment of today's criminal justice system, the accused and later (if convicted) criminal has an enormously greater array of support, assistance and rehabilitative systems available than the victim, many of which are mandated by law.

Perhaps the cruelest irony is that much of this support, assistance and rehabilitative system infrastructure is provided by dedicated funding from the public, guaranteed and mandated by years of favorable court decisions. Typically victim assistance programs, on the other hand, are tied to the philosophy that they should be funded primarily by scarce dollars from court assessments against convicted criminals and instates which have a constitutional amendment to guarantee victim rights, no public lawyers exist (like public defenders on the other side) with a mission to advocate for those rights.

All across the fifty states massive public appropriations are made annually to support the hundreds and hundreds of jails, prisons, pre-trial detention facilities, rehabilitation centers and halfway houses constructed. Federal and State monitors are vigilant to assure quality, provide service delivery, and compliance with rights and conditions mandated by the courts. Meanwhile, on the victim side of the equation, only one victim assistance center has been constructed in America, to provide under one roof, one-stop facilities to enable the victim to have a chance for rehabilitation. What is wrong with this picture?

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention -- Beginning with a Vision

If the assumption is made that victim assistance needs require a substantial infusion of additional dollars, the question becomes one of how victim advocates can obtain funding. Granted, this is not easy. However, with a new concept, traditional sources of revenue can be persuaded to provide increases and non-traditional sources can produce unexpected first time dollars.

In Jacksonville, Florida, there was both a vision and a new concept. The vision was one of an enlightened criminal justice arena with crime victims receiving at least the same level of assistance opportunities as the accused and convicted criminals can access. Furthermore, this vision involved players from outside the criminal justice system . . . like the city, the county, clerk of the court, and the economic development arm of government.

The new concept was to create "infrastructure" for the victim assistance community to chisel a strong commitment into the granite of a system that heretofore has provided service in only limited, poorly-funded ways. An example of infrastructure is a building. When government constructs a building, adequate funding for programs and public servants within comes much easier. Funding is almost a foregone conclusion, and reducing appropriations to well-run, popular programs becomes most difficult.

Accordingly, the City of Jacksonville, as a legislative program of the City Council, provided for the construction of the first, and probably still the only, freestanding victim services center in America. It is now functional, well-funded and within a year of construction of an addition that will double its size and increase staff. At this one-stop intake facility, victims can access any assistance they need including, but not limited to, crimes compensation, counseling, protection, support groups, shelter and court problem resolution.

As we approach the next century, the time is long overdue to embrace the concept that every place in America where a jail or rehabilitation facility exists for criminals, we should build a safe house for and about the services necessary to help and heal crime victims. Absent this concept of infrastructure, funding for victim programs will never make a quantum leap forward.

A victim center becomes a lightening rod for positive changes, better funding for staff and an incubator to bring in non-traditional funding sources. The cost of construction: less than 5% of the cost of an average jail.

What are these non-traditional sources which might be found in any jurisdiction to build a center and finance some of its activities or enhance existing programs?

With your dedication, imagination and innovation this partial list can grow. The quintessence of excellence for justice for victims . . . funding, building and operating a center dedicated to victims' rehabilitation.

Involve, Insist and Innovate with Politicians to Create Funding Mechanisms -- Everyone Else in the Criminal Justice System Does.

Victims of crime declined in stature from the days of the Hammurabic Code to the present. They are the poor, the powerless and the lobby-less. You may be the only lobbyist in your area, but one voice can make a difference. "Everyone else" includes judges, law enforcement, public defenders, district attorneys, parole, the prison systems, have hired guns seeking funds. You can bet your last nickel that the seeking is not usually for money for programs to help victims recover. The challenge to victim advocates is to educate and involve a few good politicians from the courthouse to the White House and show them the way.

Why do criminals get the feast and their victims the bake sale proceeds? Because we, together haven't demanded this change. We haven't stood up on our hind legs long enough and loud enough to object to inadequate funding for victims, to sound the cry for parity. Because we haven't developed and used the silent crime victim constituency to achieve the political clout to succeed.

The sources of funding are there. We have to conceive, believe and ask. What will tomorrow be for victim assistance in your city or town? If you need dollars, don't let the bucks stop somewhere else. Go for it!

Self Examination Chapter 21, Section 11 - Funding for Crime Victim Services

1) Name the most significant source of funding that has supported the growth of crime victim services.

2) Name four other existing sources of funding for crime victim sources in your state and/or community.

3) Discuss how you would develop a strategy to secure community funding for a comprehensive services program in your community.

4) Describe three fundraising events that you could initiate in your community to increase the funding of your program.

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