PDAA Calls on Congress to Support Critical Updates to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)
Action needed to stave off devastating reductions in victims’ services and compensation
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA) this week asked the Pennsylvania congressional delegation to support updates to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to stave off devastating reductions in funding for victims’ services and compensation.
“Crime victims in Pennsylvania and throughout the country need your support this week to ensure that critical services and support they receive are not drastically reduced,” said PDAA President and Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch and PDAA Victims Services Committee Chair and Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin in the letter sent to the delegation on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. “Without such action, support to victims will be considerably reduced in Pennsylvania.”
The updates to VOCA could be considered in a matter of days as part of the year-end FY 2021 omnibus spending bill. These updates are critical in order to stabilize the Crime Victims Fund, which experienced significant reductions over the last several years. Pennsylvania’s funding, which supports victims services and compensation, is estimated to see an almost 80% cut in VOCA funds between FY 2018-FY 2021 if Congress does not take action.
Without such action, “our most vulnerable victims throughout the commonwealth would suffer from what would be a paralyzing diminution of services to child advocacy, rape crisis, and domestic violence centers,” states the letter.
At risk are support organizations for elderly victims, trauma informed therapy and other support groups, and compensation provided to victims for medical expenses, loss of earnings, funeral and travel costs, childcare and relocation.
“Failing to include the updates in the FY 2021 spending bill will quite simply be a significant and unprecedented disaster for victims of crime,” the letter concludes. “We appreciate all you have done in the past to help crime victims and appreciate anything you can do to ensure that victims are able to receive funds they need to help them heal.”
Standing up for victims of crime is an essential component of a prosecutor’s work. The PDAA takes a proactive approach on legislative and other issues related to ensuring the voices of victims are heard and their rights protected. In November, PDAA announced the formation of its Victim Services Committee to develop and approve guidance for prosecutors related to crime victim rights and services and act as a liaison between the association and the commonwealth’s victim services community.
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Contact: Greg Rowe, PDAA Acting Executive Director, GRowe@pdaa.org, (717) 238-5416