Report to Congress
IntroductionOVC Advocating for
Victims' Rights and Services
- OVC's Origins and Mission
- The Crime Victims Fund: How Criminals Pay for Victim Services
- Deposits Into the Fund
- National Fine Center Returns $21 Million to the Crime Victims
- Managing the Fund and Creating a Reserve Fund
- Programs Authorized by the Victims of Crime Act
- OVC's Nongrant-Related Functions
- OVC's Leadership Initiatives in Behalf of Victims' Rights and Services
- Monitoring and Compliance
- Best Efforts and Other Federal Statutory Requirements
- Joint Performance Report
- Onsite and Desk Monitoring of VOCA Grants
- Guideline Development
- Modifications to the VOCA Victim Assistance Program
- Modifications to the VOCA Crime Victim Compensation Program
- Overview of the Report to Congress
OVC's Origins and Mission
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
is an agency located within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that Congress formally established in 1988 through an amendment to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984. VOCA, the outcome of the 1982 President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, not only established the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) and OVC, but also established full separate program initiatives to address the rights and needs of crime victims. VOCA authorizes OVC to fund States to operate crime victim compensation programs and to administer crime victim assistance services for Federal crime victims, national scope training and technical assistance, and demonstration initiatives. An amendment to VOCA also allows OVC to fund improved investigation and prosecution of child abuse under the Children's Justice Act (CJA). Crime victims receive support from OVC through formula and discretionary grants for programs and projects designed to enhance victims' rights and services. OVC also serves an advocacy and leadership role in developing policy and raising awareness for crime victims' rights and provides an array of training and other targeted resources for the many professionals who work with victims.
Just as the 1982 President's Task Force on Victims of Crime was the impetus for government actions on behalf of crime victims, OVC's work with scores of advocates in the victims' rights field led to the first comprehensive assessment of the victims' movement since 1982 with the creation of New Directions from the Field: Victims Rights' and Services for the 21st Century, completed in 1998. In the course of compiling the hundreds of recommendations from the field and listening to the voices of victims, their advocates, and allied professionals who work with crime victims throughout the Nation, certain key recommendations emerged from this comprehensive report. The following five global challenges for responding to victims of crime in the 21st century form the core of the hundreds of ideas and recommendations presented in this report:
To enact and enforce consistent, fundamental rights for crime victims in Federal, State, juvenile, military, and Tribal justice systems, and administrative proceedings.
To provide crime victims with access to comprehensive, quality services, regardless of the nature of their victimization, age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, capability, or geographic location.
To integrate crime victims' issues into all levels of the Nation's educational system to ensure that justice and allied professionals and other service providers receive comprehensive training on victims' issues as part of their academic education and continuing training in the field.
To support, improve, and replicate promising practices in victims' rights and services built upon sound research, advanced technology, and multidisciplinary partnerships.
To ensure that the voices of crime victims play a central role in the Nation's response to violence and those victimized by crime.
The mission of OVC is to enhance the Nation's capacity to assist crime victims and to provide leadership in changing attitudes, developing policies and practices that promote justice and healing for all victims of crimes. OVC accomplishes its mission by
Administering the Crime Victims Fund.
Funding direct services to crime victims.
Providing training programs that reach diverse professionals nationally and internationally.
Sponsoring demonstration projects and programs that have national impact.
Publishing and disseminating materials that
highlight promising practices for the effective treatment of crime victims that can be
Offering technical assistance to governments,
private sector programs, and others.
Developing policy and establishing public
OVC embraces these challenges and has incorporated them into its mission and goals for the
next millennium. Hence, these five global challenges represent the driving force behind the projects that OVC now funds and the policies
it supports as OVC continues to advocate for
The Crime Victims Fund: How Criminals Pay for Victim Services
A primary OVC responsibility is to administer the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). The CVF contains money derived not from tax dollars, but from fines and penalties that Federal criminal offenders must pay as part of their sentences. The largest source of deposits in the CVF comes from criminal fines. In FY 1997, the CVF held $529 million in depositsmost of which was distributed for direct victim assistance services in communities. This amount surpassed the preceding record-breaking year by approximately $166 million. A major contributor to the Fund was Daiwa Bank, which was ordered to pay a record single fine of $340 million, in settlement of its illegal trading fraud case.
Deposits Into the Fund
In FYs 1996 and 1997, approximately $892 million ($529 million from 1996 and $363 million from 1997) was collected from Federal criminal offenders to serve crime victims, surpassing the recent biennial high by about $129 million. In FY 1998, $324 million was deposited for distribution in FY 1999 (see Figure 1). These impressive collections reflect heightened efforts by U.S. Attorneys and the Antitrust Division within DOJ, at the behest of the U.S. Attorney General, to aggressively pursue fines from convicted offenders.
National Fine Center Returns $21 Million to the Crime Victims Fund
In the first session of the 105th Congress, the House of Representatives repealed funding authority contained in VOCA that required the transfer of CVF dollars to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to fund operation of the National Fine Center (NFC). This resulted in $21 million in unexpended NFC moneys being returned to the CVF and made available to OVC to improve services to crime victims in the Federal criminal justice system. Congress authorized these dollars for hiring victim/witness coordinators in U.S. Attorney's offices; establishing an automated victim information and notification system for Federal cases; and collecting, enforcing, and processing restitution orders.
Managing the Fund and
Creating a Reserve Fund
To guard against any future dramatic decreases in CVF deposits, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (the Crime Act) gave OVC authority to set aside deposits in years of increased depositsup to $20 millioninto a Reserve Fund which OVC did in early FY 1995. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act authorized OVC to increase the amount in "reserve" up to $50 million. A portion of the Reserve Fund supplemented funding to States
and provided funding to U.S. prosecutor response to victims of terrorism and mass violence. OVC accessed the Reserve Fund in FYs 19971998 to support services for Oklahoma City bombing
victims and for victims of the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa.
Each year, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno hosts an annual Crime Victims Fund Award Ceremony to honor DOJ employees for outstanding contributions to the enforcement and collection of Federal criminal debts, the proceeds of which fund thousands of victim services programs throughout the country. (See Appendix 1 for a description of some of the innovative efforts undertaken by Federal employees to hold offenders accountable and secure funds for crime victim services.)
Programs Authorized by the
Victims of Crime Act
Each year, OVC distributes approximately 90 percent of the money collected to States and U.S.
territories to help fund their victim assistance
and victim compensation programs. Remaining funds are used for training and technical
assistance, national demonstration programs showcasing promising practices in the delivery of victim rights and services, and improving the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases. The increase in CVF deposits resulted in a 61 percent increase in programs funded with VOCA victim assistance funds dollars. More than 4,000 local victim services programs, such as domestic violence shelters, children's advocacy centers, and sexual assault programs, received Federal funding from the CVF over the FYs 19971998 grant periods. Compensation funds totaling $514 million reimbursed victims for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from crime, including the cost of medical and mental health counseling, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of support. Together, VOCA victim assistance and victim compensation
programs are a lifeline to victims during their recovery process.
OVC's Nongrant-Related Functions
In addition to the many efforts funded through
its formula and discretionary grant programs (see chapter 2), OVC also undertakes numerous nongrant activities to advance crime victims' rights. OVC raises public awareness of victims' issues through its Resource Center, Web site, Training and Technical Assistance Center, and National Crime Victims' Rights Week Activities. OVC also hosts focus groups and other meetings with its victim advocacy constituency and develops informational materials to educate and focus public attention on crime victims' rights and needs. It promotes victims' rights and services around the world, for example, by targeting and participating in solutions for terrorism and international victim issues. Finally, collaborative, coordinated efforts in the form of internal DOJ working groups, interagency task forces, and other cooperative efforts are a principal means by which OVC advances victims' issues and works to improve victims' rights, recognition, and services. Financial fraud including health care fraud, family violence, mental health, and domestic preparedness are subjects of several DOJ working groups in which OVC participates, along with an interagency task force on child abuse. This chapter summarizes how OVC provides leadership, conducts monitoring and compliance, develops policy, and comments on victim-related legislation to ensure
victims' rights and services, also nongrant-related functions.
OVC's Leadership Initiatives in Behalf of Victims' Rights and Services
As mentioned previously, a major OVC-led initiative in FYs 19971998 was the creation and distribution of New Directions from the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century, a comprehensive report and set of recommendations on victims' rights and services from and concerning virtually every community involved with crime victims across the Nation. It also describes "promising practices" used around the country to implement victims' rights and services. Reflecting the views of more than 1,000
victim service and allied professionals, New Directions proposes 250 recommendations to improve crime victim treatment, and they serve as a guide to providing comprehensive victim services well into the next century. OVC has made progress and will continue working toward meeting the five global challenges which emerged from the New Directions recommendations. These global challenges amplify OVC's mission
to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.
Monitoring and Compliance
OVC plays a key role in monitoring and facilitating Federal and State agency compliance with statutory mandates affecting victims. OVC's monitoring of State programs and Federal efforts is one way to ensure proper use of VOCA funding and compliance with Federal regulations governing victims' rights and services. Monitoring and compliance reviews represent an important function of the office's mission and goals established on behalf of the Nation's nearly 32 million crime
victims. Examples of these efforts are described below.
Best Efforts and Other Federal
Congress assigned OVC responsibility for monitoring DOJ compliance with Federal victims' rights laws, which it does through the annual Best Efforts Report, submitted each fiscal year to the U.S. Attorney General. OVC receives input from each Justice component with crime victim responsibilities, then compiles and analyzes all responses and sends a finalized report containing recommendations to the U.S. Attorney General
for improving compliance with Federal victim statutes and the AG Guidelines. This report also identifies emerging issues and unmet needs of victims in the Federal justice system. Over the last biennium, OVC notes a steady improvement by DOJ in the provision of rights and services to
Joint Performance Report
Responding to calls from the field for reduced duplicative reporting requirements, an effort was made to consolidate grant performance report requirements. OVC initiated an interdepartmental effort to design a joint performance report form covering four Federal grants. The goal was two-fold: (1) to help service providers spend less time completing forms that track overlapping services, and (2) to gather more accurate information about the number of victims and services funded by Federal grants. OVC continues to work toward this goal, together with the Violence Against Women Office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Administration on Children and Families.
Onsite and Desk Monitoring of
OVC conducts periodic site visits and ongoing monitoring of State implementation of VOCA
victim assistance and compensation funding to ensure the spirit and intent of these programs established by Congress are met and to foster partnerships with State officials committed to crime victims' rights.
An important function of OVC is the development of rules and guidelines on the expenditure of VOCA funding. This effort allows OVC to ensure that the intent of Congress is carried out by funding recipients, to guide and direct the development of programs and services for crime victims, and to ensure that feedback from the field is incorporated into policy development. In FY 1997, OVC prepared and published revised final program guidelines for VOCA Victim Assistance and Compensation programs. The program guidelines provide information on administering and implementing VOCA grant programs as well as supporting victims' rights and services. Changes for the two programs are described below.
Modifications to the VOCA
Victim Assistance Program
As a result of comments from the field, amendments to VOCA, and modifications of applicable Federal regulations, the Victim Assistance Program Guidelines were expanded to allow coverage of additional victims and crimes in VOCA-funded programs. Key changes to the Guidelines described below reflect input from crime victims, victim advocates, and other interested professionals:
Expanded the definition of crime victim to include financial harm and allowed for counseling, criminal justice advocacy, and other
services to victims of financial exploitation, fraud, and other economic crimes.
Expanded the administrative cost provision to include training of adult protective services providers that promote the development of services in response to elder abuse and abuse of adults with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities.
Allowed training funds to be used for non-VOCA funded personnel when VOCA-funded personnel are also being trained. This change acknowledges that victim services programs are funded from multiple sources and that access to training for all staff benefits crime victims.
Expanded the definition of underserved victims to include victims of varying demographic characteristics, such as victims who do not speak English, have disabilities, or are members of racial or ethnic minorities.
Expanded guidelines to allow for the purchase of items that assist victims with disabilities in accessing and using services.
Allowed States that had passed new constitutional amendments and statutes creating rights for crime victims to use VOCA funds to implement these mandates.
Expanded guidelines to include coverage of emergency legal assistance for victims of domestic/family violence.
Clarified the definition of elder abuse, adding
as an allowable expense funding for short-term nursing home shelter when no other safe, short-term care is available for an abused elder.
Expanded guidelines to allow for restitution advocacy for crime victims.
Modifications to the VOCA Crime Victim Compensation Program
As with the victim assistance guidelines, OVC revised the Victim Compensation Program Guidelines in response to amendments to VOCA and modifications of applicable Federal regulations. The two key changes that were made reflect input from crime victims, victim advocates, the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB), and other
Permitted States to use administrative funds to cover indirect costs and coordination with other organizations working with crime victims. Costs could result from victim outreach, training, materials, and administration, as well as development of protocols, policies, and procedures to promote coordination between victim assistance and victim compensation programs.
Provided States with the option to accept a report made to an appropriate governmental agency, such as a child or adult protective services agency, as evidence of cooperation with law enforcement, which is required for each compensation claimant.
Overview of the Report to Congress
OVC supports victims' rights and needs in many ways. The following chapters contain discussions of OVC's grant structure which forms the underpinnings for funding victim services programs (chapter 2). Besides funding programs, OVC also supports victims rights and needs by advocating legislation and educating the public about the underserved or unserved needs of victims (chapter 3). OVC believes in forming partnerships governmentwide starting with the U.S. Department of Justice and Office of Justice Programs and expanding to include community-based and public organizations such as the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and allied professionals such as the medical community, clergy, dentists, and educators. Through such partnerships even more will be accomplished in behalf of victims (chapter 4). OVC also values the voices of the victims themselves and the victim advocates in the field and so supports various conferences, focus groups, and symposia to facilitate the dialogue that initiates the development of services to crime victims (chapter 5). This report details model victim
services programs that have resulted from discretionary grants and can be replicated across the country (chapter 6). As countries and citizens become more linked through travel, the Internet, and international trade, OVC recognizes a growing need to address the victim needs that are emerging from this international activity (chapter 7). This Report to Congress also provides a description of OVC's direct services for crime
victims that result from OVC's funding of State compensation and assistance programs (chapter 8). Perhaps of equal importance is OVC's vision for victims' rights and services and how OVC can assist our Nation in making the vision a reality (chapter 9). OVC is committed to the delivery
of crime victims' rights and services and looks
to the Nation to join in this important task.