Opinion: There is No Excuse to Let Victim-Assistance Fund Dry Up
For many victims, this direct assistance is the difference between life and death.
By Elizabeth Abdur-Raheem, May 10, 2023 9:49 am
The Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) Fund provides direct funding to victim-survivors of domestic and sexual violence (and other violent crimes) for things like mental health counseling, wage or income loss, and emergency shelter and relocation costs, to name a few of its benefits. Victims and their families can apply for this funding to assist in the emotional and financial aftermath of an assault. For many victims, this direct assistance is the difference between life and death.
Federal support has historically sustained VOCA. However, because these funds are collected through fines and fees, not taxpayer dollars, this source is drying up, leaving states with less money than expected to keep these assistance programs solvent.
In a recent hearing, a $2.3 million VOCA budget shortfall was noted. Neither the Governor’s office nor the Division of Child and Family Services proposed a solution to fill the shortfall. They did state that with fewer dollars coming in from the federal government, this fund is likely to dry up by 2025.
Shortly after this hearing, the Nevada Economic Forum projected $251 million in additional revenue. With this projected increase, allowing the VOCA fund to go broke is inexcusable. During the budget differences reconciliation process, conflicting priorities are anticipated. Some agencies and policymakers are pushing for a rainy day savings of these monies, others are pushing for increased funding of services, and there is a large spotlight on the proposed A’s Baseball Stadium. None of these discussions should get off the ground without first addressing the critical funding gap for victims of crime.
As a state that routinely ranks among the worst in the country for domestic and sexual violence, our victims deserve better and should always take top priority. We implore our policymakers to utilize this record breaking projected revenue to meet the needs of Nevadans and prioritize survivors as they have been an afterthought in our state for far too long.
One thought on “Opinion: There is No Excuse to Let Victim-Assistance Fund Dry Up ”
Fund VOCA through restitution payments.
An idea… how about impose restitution to victims of crime, like car theft and hit and runs on Casino properties. (casino properties …. LV Metro can’t enforce hit and runs in their massive car garage, because it’s private property.). Stolen vehicles.. metro did their job and apprehended the suspects, but clearly would the perps be prosecuted? Is the question.
Both true instances impacting two of my hardworking daughters, who are mothers in the last three months.
Restitution paid direct to the VOCA, not a separate payment to those like my daughters who had insurance to cover the injustice and violation.
Hit and run and car theft perps need to pay direct to VOCA or you get minimum 36 days jail time and a suspended drivers license by the state of Nevada, until you pay up.
I think that’s fair, balanced and benefits society.