Report to Congress
Supporting Direct Services for Crime Victims
- OVC-Supported State Programs To Compensate and Assist Crime
- VOCA Victim Services Trends for Priority Populations in FYs
- Services for Victims of Domestic Violence
- Services for Adult Victims of Sexual Assault
- Services for Victims of Child Abuse
- Services for Underserved Victims
- Comparison of Services and Funding Among Categories of Victims
- Other VOCA Victim Assistance Program Trends for FYs 19971998
- Integration of Victim Participation Into the Criminal Justice System
- Development and Expectation of Competencies in Providing
- Multidisciplinary, Multisystem Approaches to Responding to
- Outreach to Unserved Victim Categories
- Improved Management of Programs and Administrative Capability
- Greater Use of Technology
- VOCA Victim Compensation Program Trends For FYs 19971998
- Amounts Paid by Type of Expense (Crime Victim Compensation)
- Integration of Crime Victim Compensation Into a Coordinated,
Collaborative Response to Crime Victims
- Increased Responsiveness to Crime Victims
- Expanding and Enhancing Programs and Improving Efficiency and
- Effective Use of Peer Consultation and Training
- OVC-Supported Direct Services for Federal Crime Victims
- Facilitating and Funding Unmet Emergency Needs
- Increasing Participation of Victims in the Federal Justice System
- Reaching Out to Remote Populations
During the last biennium, OVC continued its efforts to promote the delivery
of comprehensive, quality services for all crime victims, regardless of the type
of crime they experienced, their age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual
orientation, capability, or geographic location. Because the funding available
for direct services during the FYs 19971998 biennium exceeded any previous
biennium, OVC exercised leadership in working with State administrators to plan
for, implement, and operate programs that not only continued and expanded
services already in place, but also reached communities not yet served and
supported innovative approaches to meeting victim needs.
According to public opinion surveys and evaluation of services
provided by government-based and private nonprofit programs, increasing
numbers of the general public now accept and expect that services will be in
place for crime victims.
The victims' rights movement has achieved visibility and credibility. From
its beginnings in the early 1970s with grassroots efforts to respond to rape
victims and battered women, the movement has effected significant legislation,
funding, creation of services, and a research base, and victim advocates are
beginning to look at standards for programs and individual providers. State
programs have improved outreach efforts, and victim advocacy organizations
have learned to work effectively with legislators and policymakers. OVC has
encouraged these developments through funding and training, provision of
technical assistance, and advocacy for systemic change. Shelters and court-based
advocacy programs have been created for domestic violence victims,
self-help groups have evolved for survivors of homicide and drunk driving, and
centers have opened for child sexual abuse victims. According to public
opinion surveys5 and evaluation
of services provided by government-based and
private nonprofit programs, increasing numbers of the general public now accept
and expect that services will be in place for crime victims.
OVC-Supported State Programs To Compensate and Assist Crime Victims
Through its State Compensation and Assistance Division, the Office for
Victims of Crime (OVC) administers the two major formula grant programs
authorized by VOCA: Victim Compensation and Victim Assistance. OVC distributes
over 90 percent of the Crime Victims Fund deposits directly to the States to
support State victim compensation and assistance services for victims and
survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving,
homicide, and other crimes. The amount of money distributed to States and
territories for compensation and assistance programs has fluctuated since
the passage of VOCA and the establishment of the Crime Victims Fund. During
FYs 199798, OVC distributed $682.5 million to States in the form of
formula grants. This 2-year distribution represented 40 percent of all
funds distributed since the inception of VOCA.
All 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
have established victim compensation programs. Each of these compensation
programs reimburses victims for such crime-related expenses as medical costs, mental health counseling, funeral and
burial costs, and lost wages or loss of support when other financial
resources, such as private insurance or offender restitution, do not
cover the loss.
During FYs 19971998, victim compensation programs expanded eligibility
to new categories of crime victims (e.g., victims of stalking and of hit
and run motor vehicle crashes) and compensated victims for additional types
of service (e.g., counseling for children who witness domestic violence).
The increase in the number of applications for compensation received in
FYs 9798 reflects increased awareness of and use of these programs by
victims and expanded coverage of crimes and services by States. This also
reflects the increase in the number of programs receiving funds under
VOCA victim assistance, since, as a requirement of receiving funds, these
programs must assist victims in applying for compensation.
"The words thanks, gratitude, etc., are all fitting, but I know in my heart
that God sent you to help me. Your demeanor invokes an atmosphere of trust. I
know that I can still count on you whenever I need someone to talk to because
you've never failed to be there for me. . . . I hope this program will be there
for the many people who need special help."
A victim who received services from a
New Orleans Rape
Victim assistance programs provide direct services such as crisis
counseling, criminal justice
system advocacy, shelter, and other needed assistance to crime victims. All
States and territories receive an annual VOCA victim assistance grant.
Each State, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto
Rico receives a base amount of $500,000. The territories of the Northern
Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa each receive a base amount of
$200,000. Remaining funds are distributed on the basis of population. VOCA
funds, awarded to States each year, support more than 4,000 community-based
programs that serve crime victims. From FY 1986 through FY 1998, States
received more than $1 billion in VOCA victim assistance grants.
"Overall my stay at the shelter provided me with the options necessary to make a
new start and break away from an unhealthy and dangerous situation. Without places
like Passageway it would be really hard for women without any support systems in
their lives to have any shot at starting over."
A victim who received services from Passageway,
a VOCA-funded program serving
domestic violence victims in Oklahoma
The FY 97 and 98 increase in Federal funding occurred in concert with
implementation of State constitutional amendments for crime victims' rights,
which were passed prior to and during the biennium: eight States passed an
amendment during this biennium alone. As a result, significant activity was
directed toward making services available to victims to exercise their
rights in the criminal justice system and toward educating criminal justice
and human services professionals on the availability of compensation for
crime victims. In effect, the availability of VOCA victim assistance funding
during the last 2 years played a major role in many States' ability to
respond to victims at a time when crime victims were visible, assertive,
and effective in influencing State legislative agendas.
VOCA Victim Services Trends for Priority Populations in FYs 19971998
The VOCA statute requires States and territories receiving victim assistance
funds to give priority consideration to victims of domestic violence, sexual
assault, child abuse, and those previously underserved. These "priority populations"
are the categories used in this report to track the flow of VOCA funds.
Services for Victims of Domestic Violence
Victims of domestic violence have historically received a major commitment of
VOCA victim assistance dollars (see Figure 6).
While States and territories must
spend a minimum of 10 percent of their funds on programs for domestic violence,
they have regularly committed almost four times this amount. This commitment
continued during the last biennium even as States received funding authorized
under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VOCA dollars fund direct
services to domestic violence victims, such as crisis intervention, advocacy,
shelter services, and counseling. VAWA dollars, in turn, focus on changing
the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence through training
and support of law enforcement activity and policy development and
implementation. In effect, the systemic change envisioned by VAWA is supported
by the direct services funded through VOCA victim assistance.State
compensation programs have made concerted efforts to reach out to victims
of domestic violence and to adapt program requirements to better respond to
these victims. The result is a steady increase in the number of claims filed
and the amount of money awarded to victims of domestic violence and their
Domestic Violence Funds and Services
Under VOCA victim assistance, domestic violence receives the largest
commitment of funds and serves the largest number of victims of any victim
Under VOCA victim assistance, States must spend a minimum of 10
percent of their award on domestic violence. During the last biennium, States
exceeded that by almost 4 times.
For both VOCA victim assistance and victim compensation, the
number of victims served and the amount of money expended for victims of
domestic violence increased.
Under VOCA victim compensation, domestic violence claims continued
a 4-year increase and funds awarded to domestic violence victims increased by
58 percent over the previous biennium.
Services for Adult Victims of Sexual Assault
VOCA establishes the same priority for funding for victims of sexual
assault6 as it does for
victims of domestic violence (see Figure 7). Sexual assault programs are
entitled to receive a minimum of 10 percent of funds made available to
States from OVC to support direct services. Nationwide, States have
allocated almost 20 percent of total VOCA funding for programs and services
for sexual assault victims. Between FY 1997 and FY 1998, sexual assault
programs, including programs serving adults molested as children received
more than $73 million dollars in funding. This funding provided for a
wide range of services including crisis counseling, criminal justice
advocacy, and information and referral. These services were augmented
by benefits from
forensic medical examination, mental health counseling, medical services
and lost wages covered by State compensation programs.
The amount of compensation funds awarded by States to victims of sexual
assault decreased from the last biennium. This is most likely due to the
dramatic increase in programs funded by VOCA victim assistance and by VAWA
for sexual assault victims. However, the amount expended by compensation
programs for forensic exams increased significantly from the last biennium
and has become a stable funding source for these procedures. Use of these
exams is a direct reflection of increased sensitivity by medical and
criminal justice personnel to victims of sexual assault who consent to
this means of evidence collection, but the ability to collect this evidence
has facilitated efforts by State and local criminal justice officials to
investigate and prosecute sexual assaults. This effectiveness, in turn,
has increased willingness on the part of victims to report these crimes.
Services for Victims of Child Abuse
Like other categories of crime victims, victims of child physical and
sexual abuse benefit from resources available from both local victim
assistance programs and State crime victim
compensation programs that receive VOCA funding annually
(see Figure 8). On average, States expended roughly 21
percent of their VOCA
victim assistance dollars to fund child abuse
treatment programs and children's advocacy centers. In the last biennium,
this amounted to nearly $81 million allocated for victim assistance programs
serving these victims. During FYs 9798 alone, this constituted a 250-percent
increase in VOCA victim assistance funds committed and an almost 70 percent
increase in community-based programs funded during this reporting period.
VOCA-supported compensation programs expended more than $63 million on
Services for Underserved Victims
The underserved crime victim category represents a fourth priority added
to the VOCA victim assistance program by Congress in 1988
(see Figure 9). In
implementing this statutory provision, OVC provided broad discretion to States
and territories in determining which victim populations fall within this
category. Many State VOCA administrators routinely survey crime victim advocates
and organizations, analyze crime
statistics, and utilize other mechanisms for
determining which victims to designate as"previously underserved" and allocate
the minimum 10
percent funding for programs serving them. Underserved victims may include
victims of drunk driving, homicide (surviving family members), physical assault,
elder abuse, robbery, hate crimes, arson, and financial fraud. With the exception
of American Indians and victims in rural areas, OVC has discouraged States from
designating underserved by their demographic characteristics to ensure that
victims of crimes other than child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault
receive funding support under the VOCA victim assistance program.
Like the other priority categories, programs responding to underserved victim
populations received more than 20 percent of the VOCA funding awarded to
States for crime victim services. Under VOCA-funded crime victim compensation
programs, on the other hand, underserved victims commanded 77 percent or more
of total expenditures. In addition, this group comprised 61 percent of all
claims approved. This reflects the significant expenditures in this program for
medical care for physically assaulted and drunk driving victims and funeral
expenses for homicide victims. With underserved victims, the victim assistance
and compensation programs complement one another. The compensation program
addresses many of the physical care needs of injured crime victims, while the
victim assistance program provides for the crisis intervention, criminal
justice advocacy, and social services needs of crime victims. Both programs
address the psychological consequences of crime victimization.
On average, States expended roughly 21 percent of their VOCA victim assistance
dollars to fund child abuse treatment programs and children's advocacy centers.
In the last biennium, this amounted to nearly $81 million allocated for victim
assistance programs serving these victims.
Comparison of Services and Funding Among Categories of Victims
During the last biennium, VOCA victim assistance funded programs served more
than 5.6 million
victims. Some 53 percent of the victims served were victims of domestic violence.
The next largest
category of victims served, at 26 percent, was underserved victims, followed by
child abuse victims at 12 percent and adult sexual assault victims at 9 percent.
When domestic violence and child abuse victims are combined, the number of
family violence victims served is 65 percent of all victims. This demonstrates a
strong commitment by the States in using VOCA victim assistance funding to serve
these victims and break the cycle of
Total VOCA victim assistance funding for programs serving priority categories,
i.e., domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault, was approximately
$4,141,855. At 38 percent of funds allocated, States gave first priority to
funding services to domestic violence victims. Services to underserved populations
at 23 percent, child abuse at 21 percent, and adult sexual assault at 19 percent,
followed in rank order of funds allocated (see Table 5).
When domestic violence
and child abuse funding are combined, 58 percent of VOCA victim assistance
funding in the FY 9798 biennium was committed to assisting victims of family
Funding for the priority categories (i.e., domestic violence, child abuse,
sexual assault, and previously underserved victim populations) has exceeded the
level of funding established in the VOCA victim assistance guidelines
(see Table 6). Likewise these victim categories received
support from State crime victim compensation programs. The original priorities
of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence received more than $115.7
million in compensation benefits during the biennium. It is much more difficult
to determine with any degree of certainty, however, the exact amount of
compensation expenditures for the previously underserved category because the
data are not
collected in a way that provides this information. State compensation programs
expended more than $353.7 million in VOCA victim compensation and State funds
on victims of assault, survivors of homicide victims, and DUI/DWI victims
during the biennium (see Figure 10).
Crime victim compensation programs expended the largest amount of VOCA and
State funds on nonfamilial crime. The family violence categories of child sexual
and physical abuse and domestic violence comprise 19 percent of total expenditures
for the biennium. While the remaining
categories may include family violence (e.g., homicide by a spouse), broadly
speaking, compensation programs awarded more funds for benefits to victims of
violence outside the family.
Other VOCA Victim Assistance Program Trends For FYs 19971998
"This VOCA grant has made the difference between our program meeting the basic
needs of those victimized by crime in Clackamas County and having to prioritize
and/or reduce the service provided by our division . . . .Thank you very much
for the opportunity to serve on the human side of the criminal justice
VOCA victim assistance programs fund programs that provide direct services
to crime victims. The 361-percent funding increase in the CVF from the previous
biennium resulted in an increase in the number of victims served and the number
of services provided through VOCA victim assistance grants. States awarded
subgrants to 3,722 victim services programs in FY 1997 and 4,143 programs in
FY 1998, compared with 2,535 in FY 1995 and 2,678 in FY 1996, a 51-percent
increase on average in funded programs for FYs 19971998. Several trends
emerged that are responsible for the successful expansion and improvement
of crime victim services over the last biennium: integration of victim
participation and services into the criminal justice system; development
and expectations of competence in the victim services field, a multidisciplinary,
multisystem approach to responding to crime victims; outreach to unserved
victim categories; improved management of programs and administrative
capability and capacity; and greater use of
Integration of Victim Participation Into the Criminal Justice System
In FYs 19971998, major steps were taken to integrate victim services into the
criminal justice system and to legitimize victims' roles in that system.
States passed laws concerning victims of domestic violence, stalking,
juvenile crime, child abuse, and hate and bias crimes, among others.
This increased attention to the rights of victims promoted an increase
in the number of subgrants to criminal justice organizations, including
prosecutor, law enforcement, and probation offices. In addition, 29
percent more victims received VOCA-funded criminal justice system
support services in FY 1997 than in FY 1996. This number increased by an
additional 22 percent in FY 1998.
"It is with a great deal of pride that I send in our VOCA performance report.
Because of your grant, we have been able to work more efficiently with survivors
of homicide. This money has enabled us to soften the pain on the long journey
each survivor of homicide makes."
Parents of Murdered Children
Portland Oregon Chapter
Consistent with these numbers, State VOCA victim assistance administrators
reported increased cooperation among law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim
services programs, and greater coordination between State victim assistance
providers and Federal criminal justice agencies. Cooperation among sexual
assault advocates, hospitals, law enforcement, and prosecutors in standardizing
and adapting evidence collection to the sensitivities of victims resulted
in better outcomes for both prosecution and victim services. In several
States, Federal victim/witness coordinators are members of organizations'
advisory boards that serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence,
and other victims of crimealso resulting in more effective coordination
of the delivery of services to Federal crime victims.
During the last biennium, VOCA victim assistance funded programs served more
than 5.6 million victims.
Development and Expectation of Competencies in Providing Victim Services
OVC has directly contributed to the movement to improve the quality of
services victims receive through its sponsorship of training and technical
assistance, development of program standards, and efforts to offer educational
opportunities to victim advocates and allied professionals. At the same time,
during the last biennium, States' VOCA victim assistance programs also have
been instrumental in providing for, arranging, funding, and sponsoring
considerable training of victim services providers and criminal justice
officials. In FYs 19971998, VOCA victim assistance administrators in several
States conducted statewide conferences and training academies. States sent
advocates to OVC's National Victim Assistance Academy and several
Statesincluding California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, and Ohiohave
developed their own training programs for
FYs 19971998 performance reports show victim advocates reaching out to other
professionals and their organizations to expand services to crime victims. For
instance, Maryland successfully integrated domestic violence workplace policies
within State agencies and created a domestic violence in the workplace training
curriculum for State employees. Other States provided training for clergy and
social workers in grief and trauma therapy and emergency medical technicians
and hospital emergency room staff on domestic
VOCA victim assistance funds were also used to raise program and provider standards.
For example, Alabama enacted legislation to establish
standards for domestic violence shelters, Kansas required accreditation for sexual
assault and domestic violence organizations, and Pennsylvania established uniform
standards for serving co-victims of homicide, robbery, burglary, and assault.
Multidisciplinary, Multisystem Approaches to Responding to Crime Victims
In the aftermath of crime, a victim may interact with a variety of
professionals and their systems, including health care, law enforcement,
victim services and compensation, prosecution, courts, human services,
public assistance, corrections, probation, and parole. No one system can
independently provide all services needed by a
victim. State VOCA victim assistance reports
document the formation of multiple advisory committees, councils, coalitions,
and task forces covering general crime victims, sexual assault, child
abuse, and domestic violence during the last biennium.
The incorporation of multidisciplinary, multisystem approaches to serving crime
victimsbeyond the traditional criminal justice agencies and nonprofit
organizationsis a major factor in improving responses to victims of crime.
Many States have funded child advocacy centers that incorporate medical,
mental health, law enforcement, prosecution, and child protective services
into a single program that allows for victims of child sexual abuse to be
interviewed and examined, thus facilitating decisions regarding prosecution
and delivery of services to the victim and family at one meeting. The
multidisciplinary team approach to child abuse is now common in many States.
In addition, several communities in Minnesota introduced models of whole
community responses to sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
(SANE) program requires medical personnel, law enforcement, prosecutors,
and sexual assault advocacy organizations to collaborate on behalf of
the victim, again saving the victim from repeated questioning.Crisis response
teams require collaboration of law enforcement, prosecutors, trained victim
crisis interveners and counselors, and victim compensation programs to
effectively respond to mass violence. These teams have been established in
many States with OVC facilitating the delivery of training to these
professionals, often through a grant to NOVA.
Other unique relationships have developed to meet the needs of specific
groups of crime victims, such as establishing a Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(MADD) advocate on a reservation in Arizona, opening a free legal clinic in a
sexual assault program in Minnesota, and initiating training of local law
enforcement, sheriff officers, prosecutors, judges, advocates, social workers,
and hospital emergency room staff to provide an interdisciplinary response
to domestic violence and sexual assault victims by South Dakota victim
State VOCA victim assistance administrators reported increased cooperation among
law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim services programs, and greater coordination
between State victim assistance providers and Federal criminal justice agencies.
Outreach to Unserved Victim Categories
Diversity is inherent in American culture and, as a result, multiple avenues
must be developed for crime victims to access the criminal justice system and
victim services. As a part of OVC's commitment assuring that all victims of
crime receive services and have access to the criminal justice system, States
have been encouraged to establish innovative programs for crime victims,
to increase outreach to diverse victim populations, and to ensure services
are accessible. Through OVC's diligence to increase awareness of and sensitivity
toward diverse victim populations, the following changes have developed in
States throughout the Nation:
Understanding that low-income individuals and families may need assistance
in accessing crime victim services, Oregon placed crime victim services staff at
the State welfare office.
Tennessee developed comprehensive services in rural and socially isolated
areas of the State.
Many States made greater efforts to reach and serve ethnic groups.
Hispanic hotlines were established in Connecticut and Delaware. In Minnesota,
culturally specific domestic violence shelters were established for Asian,
Spanish-speaking, and American Indian women. To reach Asian populations,
Minnesota has also funded a pilot program for Southeast Asian victims of
gang-related activities, as well as a sexual assault program through the
Women's Association of Hmong and Lao. Washington and Wisconsin sponsored
specialized training on immigrant issues as they affect crime victims.
"Ujima is a wonderful program. It has helped my family and me in many ways with
housing, food, and moral support. I really think this program can assist a lot of
families. I was very blessed and happy to come in contact with this program.
Keep up the good work."
A victim who received services from Project Ujima,
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Several States recognized the specialized needs of crime victims who are
Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing. For example, in Missouri, the Midwest Leadership through
Education and Advocacy for the Deaf Institute (LEAD) provided, with VOCA funding,
statewide services to Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing victims of violent crime. The
South Carolina Department of Mental Health provided enhanced services to deaf
adults and children by providing interpreters to work with counselors. In
Connecticut, several agencies collaborated to provide services to victims of
sexual assault and their families who were hearing impaired.
Other populations to whom States conducted outreach included youth,
victims of gang violence, child witnesses of domestic violence, women and
children victims of Internet-related crimes, elderly victims, and victims who
were owed restitution.
The incorporation of multidisciplinary, multisystem approaches to serving crime
victimsbeyond the traditional criminal justice agencies and nonprofit
organizationsis a major factor in improving responses to victims of crime.
In FY 1997, 14 States awarded subgrants to Indian Country.
During FYs 19971998, victim assistance formula grant funds committed to
Indian Country increased by 66 percent over the previous bienniumfrom
$2,662,651 to $4,042,092.
Improved Management of Programs and Administrative Capability and Capacity
Because of the increase in legislative mandates, the growth of programs for
crime victims, and the major increase in Federal funding, States increased
their capacity and expertise to manage funding and programs for crime victims
by using up to 5 percent of their awards for administrative costs, as
authorized by VOCA. In FY 1997, State compensation programs used less than
1 percent of their Federal funds for administration and in FY 1998, they used
1.69 percent. Rather than using the full allocation of administrative funds
available to them, State administrators placed priority on paying claims from
victims. States continued to use State revenues to pay for program administration.
This is a reasonable approach, considering the relative stability of claims
activity and expenditures, and reflects States' commitment to crime victims.
Thirty-four States and territories used administrative dollars to increase
staffing, particularly for managers, administrators, grant specialists, and
program specialists. Key functions supported with these funds included
monitoring, sponsorship of conferences and training, and provision of technical
assistance. Some other examples of administrative expenditures include the
following: Connecticut and Illinois contracted with a conduit organization
to monitor subgrantees, while several States used administrative dollars to
upgrade office technology and support the implementation of automated systems
intended to improve the coordination and delivery of services. In the VOCA
victim assistance program, States and their subgrantees designed and implemented
quality assurance and evaluation processes of victims services.
Greater Use of Technology
States used VOCA victim assistance administrative funds to improve management
and delivery of victim services. Several States and territories, during FY 1998,
used a portion of the 5-percent allocation to develop technology and purchase
equipment. These funds increased the efficiency of grants management, in part
through the development of databases and programmed statistical and financial
reporting. As an example, Virginia used administrative dollars to create a
Statewide Client Information Management System (CIMS) that tracks provision of
services by client and service agency. Police crime incident reports, when
correlated with CIMS-generated information, can assess areas of the State that
may need additional victim assistance resources.
States also awarded direct services funds to develop and operate notification
systems to inform victims of activities concerning their cases in the criminal
justice system or expand victim protection. For example, nine States reported
using VOCA dollars to implement statewide automated victim notification systems
that allow victims to be updated on the legal status and whereabouts of their
offenders. In Arizona, VOCA moneys were used to pay for cellular phones for
domestic violence victims so they can summon the police for help at a
By investing in advanced technology, States increased their capacity to serve
victims. For example, Montana utilized VOCA victim assistance program dollars
to purchase CD-ROM technology to train emergency medical technicians, as they
are often the first to respond to victims in the immediate aftermath of violent
crime. In addition, five States reported using VOCA funds to create victim
service Web sites, making it possible for service providers and victims to
quickly and easily obtain information about available resources.
Not only has technology made services available to more victims, but advanced
technologies are being used to enhance the quality of services offered. In
Illinois, for instance, VOCA funds supported development of InfoNetan
integrated Information Network that allows victim services providers across
the State to communicate freely with one another, collect accurate program
performance data, and standardize program reporting. In fact, many States
have used VOCA funds to purchase computers and printers for victim services
providers thus enabling them to share information about victims' needs
quickly and to locate appropriate resources. Finally, access to the Internet,
with VOCA-funding support, is helping victim services professionals stay
current on medical and psychological research regarding traumatic victimization
and on "promising practices" that can help victims recover from the
consequences of violent crime.
Nine States reported using VOCA dollars to implement statewide automated victim
notification systems that allow victims to be updated on the legal status and
whereabouts of their offenders.
In sum, VOCA administrative dollars were widely used during the biennium to
help State agencies manage their grantsa trend OVC expects will continue.
VOCA-funded technologies improved crime victim services by helping the States do
Reach more underserved crime victims.
Enhance victim safety through implementation of automated victim
Improve the transfer of information among providers regarding
victims' needs and available local resources.
Increase the professional expertise of victim services providers
through Internet access to current academic literature on the consequences
and treatment of criminal
VOCA Victim Compensation Program Trends For FYs 19971998
While VOCA victim assistance funds programs that provide direct services to
crime victims, compensation programs pay certain related expenses for individual
victims of violent crime, such as funeral expenses and lost wages. During FYs
19971998, States undertook initiatives to reduce their backlogs of claims and
expedite claims processing.
The number of claims received increased during FYs 19971998 by 10 percent
over the previous biennium (see Figure 11).
This most likely reflects increased
outreach activities by State compensation programs. The percentage of claims
approved increased by 6 percent, while the percentage of claims denied
decreased by 8 percent over the previous biennium. While key indicators,
such as number of claims, number of determined and denied claims, and total
dollars spent for FYs 19971998 increased, compensation claims activity remained
relatively stable during the biennium. This occurred even as rates of violent
crime decreased. Reasons for this seemingly incongruous occurrence may be
explained by several trends occurring in victim compensation over the last
4 years and underscored during the last biennium.
A number of emerging trends in victim compensation programs were noted from
FYs 19971998 performance data and onsite monitoring visits conducted by OVC
staff. Compensation programs engaged in greater outreach to the general public
and to crime victims through statewide conferences and other public awareness
initiatives that informed victims of compensation benefits. State compensation
programs increased their responsiveness to crime victims by expanding covered
costs and improving their claims processing. Compensation programs received
more claims from crime victims and expended more funds for benefits, even in
the face of declining crime statistics. More effective use of peer consultation
and training was facilitated by OVC-supported National Association of Crime
Victim Compensation Boards (NACVCB) annual conferences that encouraged networking
and fostered communication between State compensation and assistance administrators.
OVC's Mentor Program supported States' efforts to improve claims processing,
revenue recovery, and other program improvements by facilitating technical
assistance between programs. Taken together, OVC and State efforts resulted in
increased help for victims and a corresponding increase in the receipt of claims
from victims and larger payouts from State compensation programs.
Of the types of crimes covered by the crime victim compensation programs,
physical assault consistently ranks as the crime capturing the largest number
of claims and the largest expenditure of money. (See
Figure 12 for number and
amount of victim compensation paid by type of crime.)
The number of homicide claims covered by compensation decreased 6 percent
from the last biennium, likely reflecting a decrease in the homicide rates
nationally. The amount of money paid for homicide claims, however, increased
because of increases in State caps on amounts paid for funeral and burial
expenses, coverage of mental health counseling for survivors, and other expanded
benefits. As reported, domestic violence compensation claims continued a 4-year
(2 biennia) increase. DUI claims were down from the last biennium, a trend
consistent with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's figures
released in April 1999 on the number of fatalities resulting from alcohol-related
crashes during those years.
Amounts Paid by Type of Expense (Crime Victim Compensation)
Not surprisingly, medical and dental expenses consumed a major share of VOCA
compensation dollars during the biennium (see Figure 13).
Many victims incurred
uninsured medical costs as a result of their victimization and so they turned
to State compensation programs for coverage. Medical treatment ranged from
repairing a broken arm to reconstructive surgery for victims of arson and
other catastrophic injuries. The second largest expense category supported by
VOCA was for loss of economic support ($105,811,118). Crime victim compensation
programs provided funds to both adult and child survivors of homicide victims
as well as to victims who were temporarily and permanently disabled as a result
of their injuries. The third largest category consuming substantial payments
to victims was for mental health counseling expenses ($92,635,056). Crime
victims, including both victims who suffered physical injury and substantial
financial losses, often sought assistance from professional mental health
counseling therapists. Mental health counseling rendered by licensed
clinicians frequently was coupled with group counseling offered by lay
persons in community-based victim services programs. The therapy focused
on a wide range of treatment modalities intended to help victims cope with
the devastation of the crime committed against them.
In total, State crime victim compensation programs paid out roughly $521.5
million to crime victims for medical and dental expenses, mental health counseling,
economic support, funeral expenses, forensic sexual assault examinations, and
other costs incurred by crime victims over the biennium using VOCA funds.
Compensation Programs Boost Benefits To Meet Victims' Needs
"Compensation programs across the country are increasing maximum
payment amounts, raising the cap on specific expense categories, and
adding new types of allowable expenses as they strive to meet more of
the needs of victims.
"Twelve States upped their caps on funeral expenses in the past year,
with new limits ranging from $3,500 to $7,500. . . . Overall maximum
award amounts increased in five States. Colorado doubled its top
allowable award to $20,000, and North Carolina increased its maximum
award to $30,000. . . . Other changes include a 50-percent increase
in allowable medical costs in Iowa; substantially higher lost-wage
limits in Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina,
and Texas; increases in mental health benefits in Arkansas and New
Jersey; and a doubled emergency award maximum in Colorado.
"To provide more help to domestic violence victims, Colorado,
New Jersey, Vermont, and Wyoming are now paying for lost support
formerly provided by offenders to abused spouses and their dependents.
Relocation costs for domestic violence victims are also being paid
in a number of States.
"Programs also are moving forward with new legislative proposals
to add more benefits. For instance, Arkansas expects to add a
$25,000 catastrophic benefit; Maine soon will pay for crime scene
cleanup; and Missouri plans to cover all crimes occurring outside
"These programs and others continue to listen to 'victims' voices,'
and they are making substantial progress to meet their needs."
Excerpt from front-page article in
Crime Victim Compensation Quarterly,
Integration of Crime Victim Compensation Into a Coordinated, Collaborative
Response to Crime Victims
In FYs 19971998, crime victim compensation programs increasingly participated with criminal justice officials and victim services providers in developing coordinated and collaborative responses to crime victims, an approach strongly encouraged by OVC. State compensation programs conducted outreach to two different and key audiences. The first group included the general public and crime victims themselves. This form of outreach involved public awareness
campaigns, brochures, public speaking, and other initiatives. The second key audience included officials and agency staff who interact with victims in the aftermath of crime. These included criminal justice, advocacy and human services staff, and volunteers.
Several States achieved greater coordination of victim compensation and assistance programs through statewide conferences and other means. Results from these conferences showed up when students in Arkansas and Oregon schools were killed in mass shootings. Compensation directors were involved in mobilizing State crisis response teams, implementation of streamlined compensation application processes, and sending staff out to communities to provide assistance to the victims and surviving family members.
Increased Responsiveness to Crime Victims
The purpose of crime victim compensation programs is to alleviate the economic impact of crime on victims (i.e., to expediently pay bills resulting from the crime thereby preventing dunning, damaged credit ratings, and bankruptcies). Consequently, State compensation programs have made concerted efforts to meet the needs of crime victims in the following ways:
In response to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1996, States that had not
previously covered residents who were victimized by terrorism in other countries
worked to change legislation to include these victims.
Utah added, as a compensable expense, counseling for family members
of homicide victims.
Oregon included children affected by domestic violence. Other States
increased the amounts payable to crime victims.
Michigan increased the maximum allowed for funeral expenses.
Mississippi increased payments for lost wages.
Ohio paid lost wages to battered women who left their jobs because of
fear of the batterer.
Iowa and New Jersey accepted temporary restraining orders in lieu of
police reports as verification that a crime occurred and evidence of victim
cooperation with law enforcement. In addition, Ohio considered a report to
child protective services as meeting the police report requirement.
Expanding and Enhancing Programs and Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness
Throughout the 1990s, State crime victim compensation programs across the Nation
have had three primary goalsto increase and stabilize program funding, to improve
program efficiency and effectiveness, and to increase awareness and access to
program benefits. States have sought assistance from both State and Federal
Government officials to address these goals. Compensation programs have relied
upon promising practices among their peers and upon assistance available from
the Federal Government to improve the overall quality of services to crime
victims. States rely on fines, fees, forfeitures, and assessments imposed
on convicted offenders to fund their crime victim compensation programs.
This trend mirrors the efforts of Congress to hold offenders accountable
for their actions by making them statutorily contribute to the Federal Crime
Victims Fund established by Congress when VOCA was passed. States have
undertaken other innovative efforts to raise funds for their crime compensation
programs. For instance, Missouri hired a compliance auditor to develop a
tracking system for fees to fund its crime compensation program. Minnesota and
Mississippi added a portion of inmate wages to the revenues set aside for crime
Crime victim compensation programs also have made innovative inroads in the
areas of subrogation and restitution collection. Significant efforts were
undertaken to access restitution payments for individual victims and for
State programs. California conducts regular outreach to judges, and Iowa
coordinates with probation officers in their pursuit of restitution due from
offenders. Yavapai County, Arizona, has a restitution project to raise
awareness among judges, district attorneys, and probation officers. The theme
is "Victims need respectand restitution. It's up to you."
In an effort to improve program efficiency, States took advantage of administrative
cost authorized by VOCA albeit at a significantly lower level than State VOCA
administrators. During the biennium, State crime compensation programs expended only
$1.8 million (less than 2 percent) of the administrative funding made available to
them. VOCA administrative dollars were used to help States improve the quality of
services provided to crime victims. For example, States used administrative funds
to improve claims processing through the use of technology, to hire outreach staff,
and to produce public awareness materials to increase awareness of their programs
and benefits. For example, Oklahoma began implementing a system that will allow
victims to submit claims electronically; Utah established standardized hospital
rates that resulted in a 15-percent savings on most medical bills; and Texas
contracted for the analysis of hospital bills and mental health treatment costs.
Compensation programs also sought expert assistance in examining costs and
claims received from victims for benefits.
States rely on fines, fees, forfeitures, and assessments imposed on convicted
offenders to fund their crime victim compensation programs. This trend mirrors
the efforts of Congress to hold offenders accountable for their actions by
making them statutorily contribute to the Federal Crime Victims Fund established
by Congress when VOCA was passed. States have undertaken other innovative
efforts to raise funds for their crime compensation programs.
Effective Use of Peer Consultation and Training
State compensation administrators represent an exemplary model of peer
support. This has been fostered by the National Association of Crime Victim
Compensation Boards (NACVCB), which conducts annual conferences, encourages
networking, and establishes an arena in which administrators can critique
and advise on one another's programs. NACVCB supports communication among
members by means of its newsletter, national and regional workshops, and
listserv. In their interactions, compensation and assistance administrators
recognize the varying environments, politics, and complexities in which
each program operates. At the same time, they challenge one another to adapt
their programs to the changing needs of crime victims.
During the biennium, OVC also established a VOCA Administrators' Mentor
Program, which gives administrators the opportunity to learn from one another
onsite. State compensation administrators made effective use of this program
13 times during the biennium. Administrators in the Iowa program have been
particularly instrumental in helping other States examine their claims processing
systems, automation, and revenue recovery programs.
OVC-Supported Direct Services for Federal Crime Victims
Direct services for Federal crime victims reflected OVC goals of increasing the participation of victims in the Federal justice system, facilitating and funding unmet emergency needs, and reaching out to remote populations. OVC reserves a portion of discretionary moneys from the CVF to provide emergency services to victims of Federal crime when no other resources are available. OVC also makes awards directly to Indian Tribes/Alaskan Native Villages under Federal criminal jurisdiction to establish reservation-based victim assistance services in remote areas of Indian Country where services to crime victims are limited.
OVC reserves a portion of discretionary moneys from the CVF to provide
emergency services to victims of Federal crime when no other resources are
Facilitating and Funding Unmet Emergency Needs
VOCA emphasizes the importance of fair treatment for crime victims in the Federal
criminal justice system and supports emergency services to victims of Federal crimes
when no other resources are available (i.e., crisis counseling, paying temporary
shelter costs, covering travel for victims' participation in criminal justice
proceedings, defraying emergency medical treatment expenses, and hiring interpreters
for nonsubpoenaed victims). OVC previously funded just one emergency assistance
fundwith Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA). In FY 1997, OVC also funded
the FBI to provide emergency services to Federal crime victims. In FY 1998,
additional funding was made available to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Through victim/witness coordinators in the 94 U.S. Attorney's offices and in the
56 FBI field offices nationwide, OVC-funded projects facilitated victim participation
in trials and provided emergency shelter, counseling, transportation to court,
short-term child care, and temporary housing and security measures when these
services were unavailable. The success of these programs has secured their
continuance in FY 1999.
Increasing Participation of Victims in the Federal Justice System
The Children's Justice Act (CJA) provides for increased participation of
victims in the Federal justice system. It established a priority for discretionary
funding supporting services for child victims in Indian Country (see
Appendix 4, "Children's Justice Act Partnerships for
Indian Communities"). CJA
funds go toward programs to improve the handling of child sexual abuse cases in
Indian Country. It is the only Federal program for Tribes that focuses exclusively
on lessening the trauma to American Indian children who participate in criminal
justice proceedings. A total of $1.5 million is available annually for this
grant program. Since CJA was established in 1989, OVC has funded 40 Tribal
programs, with an increase in the number of Tribes operating effective CJA
programs. The program addresses shortcomings in the Tribal criminal justice
system and has led to systemic change in the treatment of child abuse in
CJA's resulting improvements in the handling of child abuse cases on Indian
Establishment, expansion, and training for
Revision of Tribal codes to address child
Provision of child advocacy services for
children involved in court proceedings.
Development of protocols and procedures for reporting,
investigating, and prosecuting child sexual abuse cases.
Improved coordination that minimizes the number of
Enhanced case management and treatment services.
Specialized training for prosecutors, judges, investigators, and
other professionals who
handle child sexual abuse cases.
Development of procedures for establishing and managing
child-centered interview rooms.
"American Indian children were abused and neglected at a rate almost twice
their proportions in the national child population."
National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect,
(1998). Child Maltreatment 1996: Reports From
the States for the National Child Abuse and Neglect
Data System. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
The following is a sample of CJA programs funded by OVC in FYs 19971998.
They indicate the kinds of systemic change brought about through infrastructure
development and establishment of comprehensive services to better investigate,
prosecute, and prevent cases of child abuse and neglect in Indian Country.
Pueblo of Laguna. The Pueblo of Laguna used its grant to establish
a special prosecution unit. The Tribe hired a prosecutor, who worked with the law
and order committee to revise the criminal code to include new provisions for
child abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and the buying and selling of
Indian children. A family protection code was also drafted and approved by the
Muscogee Creek Nation. The Creek Nation developed a three-phase
program to implement a comprehensive system for responding to cases of child
abuse throughout the investigatory, prosecutory, and treatment phases of the
child protective process. Incidents of child abuse within the Creek Nation
decreased as a result of new prevention and treatment processes.
Reaching Out to Remote Populations
The Victim Assistance in Indian Country Program (VAIC) makes awards directly to
Indian Tribes under Federal criminal jurisdiction to establish reservation-based
victim assistance services in remote areas of Indian Country where limited services
are available for victims of crime. Often American Indians suffer from high crime
rates, particularly resulting from domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and
driving under the influence of alcohol. A Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
study based on responses by American Indians revealed that this population suffers
the highest crime rate of any minority ethnic group (February 1999, BJS-American
Indians and Crime). Since 1988, OVC has awarded more than $7.2 million to fund
over 52 VAIC programs. In 1998, VAIC programs served some 8,300 victims of
domestic violence, child physical abuse, elder abuse, assault, and DUI/DWI
crashes as well as survivors of homicide victims. Activities that are funded
include hiring victim advocates, establishing a 24-hour crisis hotline,
service volunteers, transporting victims in an emergency, and providing bilingual
counseling services. Approximately 20 VAIC programs have been funded in 1999.
OVC's commitment to honor Tribal sovereignty and improve the relationship between
the Federal Government and Indian Tribes prompted OVC in 1997 to modify its
VAIC discretionary grant program so that Tribes could receive funding directly
from OVC rather than through State agency subgrants. Under this new strategy,
OVC also encouraged States to increase their efforts to fund Tribal victim
services programs with State VOCA assistance grant funds.
In FY 1997, OVC awarded funds to 32 programs in 17 States to provide services
such as crisis intervention, domestic violence shelters, court advocacy networks,
and court transportation. These programs served 7,685 victims, increasing the
number of victims served by 419 from FY 1995. Approximately 25 percent of these
funds supported child abuse services, 40 percent supported domestic violence
services, 9 percent supported adult sexual assault services, and more than 26
percent supported services for victims of other types of crime such as drunk
driving crashes, assault, elder abuse, robbery, and adults molested as children.
Domestic violence also received a large share of the funding available for
Indian Country, like funding provided for State and local victim services.
OVC's commitment to honor Tribal sovereignty and improve the relationship
between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes prompted OVC in 1997 to
modify its VAIC discretionary grant program so that Tribes could receive
funding directly from OVC rather than through State agency subgrants.
In FY 1997, funds went to serve many more victims in the areas of
child physical and sexual abusein both cases the number of victims increased
by about 85 percent. This most likely reflects heightened efforts by
OVC's CJA program to reach out to American Indian victims of child abuse
with expanded services. Other types of crime victims served, such as victims
of robbery, increased by 29 times, from 8 to 231, as a result of increased
VAIC funding and efforts to expand victim services in Indian Country.
Also, OVC encouraged States to fund more Tribal victim services programs
with State VOCA assistance funds. For similar reasons, the number of
adult sexual assault victims served more than doubled from 1995 to 1997,
going from 310 to 693.
Congress voiced its concern for crime victims by allocating the majority of
CVF dollars for direct services and assistance to our Nation's crime
victims. In addition, congressional intent, to allow States to decide what
services are needed for which victim populations, has been carried out by OVC in
the development of program guidelines that provide broad discretion to States
and by States in their implementation of both the VOCA crime victim compensation
and assistance grants. Likewise, OVC has attempted to reshape the treatment of
Federal crime victims not only at the Federal level but also at the State and
local levels by facilitating access to services at more local levels. Again,
much of this effort has been with congressional intercession dictating that
Federal crime victims have access to compensation benefits on the same basis
as victims of State crimes, setting aside funding specifically for child victims
in Indian Country and requiring States to compensate and assist victims of
terrorist acts. The driving force behind VOCA implementation comes from the
voices of victims, which play a powerful role in passing legislation, shaping
policies, and encouraging the establishment of comprehensive programs. OVC
is committed to improving the response to crime victims and helping communities
everywhere to implement innovative, comprehensive programs for greater justice
and healing. During the biennium, increased victim participation in the criminal
justice system, enhanced services for crime victims, and a more sensitive response
to victims needs have been recognized with funding support for victims. But
most importantly, victims in every community and virtually every demographic
group have greater access to much needed services and financial assistance
to deal with their
5Council of State Governments Eastern Regional
Conference conducted a survey in 10 Northeastern States
in November 1998 to assess public attitudes about crime,
victimization, and rights and services afforded to crime
6For the purposes of this report, service data for adult sexual
assault victims and adults molested as children have been
combined. The number of programs funded during the
biennium to provide services to adults molested as children
totaled 3,403, dollars allocated to these programs totaled more than
$11 million, and victims served totaled 157,075.