WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen attended a landmark bill signing on Thursday that permanently secures funding to aid victims who have been affected by crimes.
The VOCA or Victims of Crime Act Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 is designed to provide funding for victims of crimes of any nature with expenses for counseling, lost wages, and medical bills that resulted from the crime.
The fund was previously sustained by revenues collected from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements but in more recent times, that money has gone directly to the U.S. treasury.
In Maryland, over 120 organizations receive funding from the Crime Victims Fund, ranging from domestic violence shelters to child advocate services, to rape crisis centers, and including the University of Maryland SAFE Center on Human Trafficking.
The legislation passed through the House with a final vote of 384 – 38 and passed unanimously through the Senate.
Now with President Biden’s signature on the bipartisan legislation, Senator Van Hollen says the fund can finally rebuild.
“It’s very important that we have this support available,” Sen. Van Hollen said. “It’s, of course, very important to connect the perpetrators of violent crime, but the conviction doesn’t provide any direct support to the victims.”
Before signing the legislation, President Biden called the bipartisan bill “truly lifesaving.”