Last year, 55,000 Iowans were helped by federal Victims of Crime Act grant funds
DES MOINES – The Iowa Attorney General’s office today announced that the Crime Victim Assistance Division received $12.76 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund victim assistance and victim compensation programs in Iowa.
“These vital funds will allow our office to continue to provide critical grants to local and non-profit agencies that serve victims of crime in Iowa,” said Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division. “Last year, nearly 55,000 Iowans received assistance including shelter and housing, counseling and justice system services, with thousands more helped through our Crime Victim Compensation program – all as a direct result of the dollars made available from Victims of Crime Act fund."
Today’s award, which applies to federal fiscal year 2022, will be used to provide compensation payments to victims of violent crimes and directly support victim service programs across the state through grants.
The funding is part of more than $1.2 billion in federal grants being awarded this year to states and territories to support crime victims. The grants are made by the Office for Victims of Crime, a division of the Department’s Office of Justice Programs.
Funds for the award are available from the Crime Victims Fund, which is made up primarily of federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures, not taxpayer dollars. The Fund was established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA) and today supports thousands of local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
The most recent award represents an 8% decrease in funding from the $17.9 million awarded last fiscal year. It is expected that funding will continue to decrease, by as much as 20% in immediate years, before the so-called VOCA fix, passed by Congress this summer, goes into effect. CVAD anticipated, prior to the VOCA fix, that funding decreases would result in nearly 5,000 fewer victims of crime served by these programs in fiscal year 2021 and nearly 23,500 fewer victims assisted in fiscal year 2022.
“Without adequate funding, we will likely see fewer advocates available in communities, community offices with severely limited access or closed entirely, and victims turned away from needed services when programs do not have the staff or funds to assist,” Tibbetts Murphy said.
Victim assistance funding goes to local direct service programs, including children’s advocacy centers, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, human trafficking and elder abuse programs, civil legal services and crime victims’ rights enforcement, as well as victim advocate positions in prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement departments. State victim compensation programs supplement the state funds that assist victims with financial burdens such as medical fees, lost income, dependent care, funeral expenses and other costs resulting from crime.