Friday | November 13, 2020

SCOTT AND COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME, RESTORE INTEGRITY TO FEDERAL FUND

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) joined Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) to introduce the Fairness for Crime Victims Act, a bill to ensure that money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund goes to crime victims, and is not abused by congressional appropriators as a tool to fund other projects. 

"The Crime Victims Fund was created to help those who were victimized by crimes, and the funds should only be used for that purpose," said Senator Tim Scott. “It’s disappointing that Congress has withheld funds that should be going directly to victims; this type of behavior needs to stop. I hope that my colleagues will support this legislation to bring justice to the survivors of crimes." 

"Federal law requires that the proceeds of the Crime Victims Fund only be used to serve victims of crime. Year after year though, Congress withholds billions from victims of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes in order to fake a smaller deficit or direct funds to other programs," said Senator Toomey. “This is wrong and we should do better by victims of crime. Every penny in the Crime Victims Fund should be disbursed annually to serve those for whom it is intended." 

"CHILD USA is delighted to see Senator Toomey pushing for justice and service provision for survivors of violent crime with the Fairness for Crime Victims Act," said Marci Hamilton, CEO and Legal Director of CHILD USA, a national non-profit that works to stop all forms of child abuse. "Ensuring adequate funding to assist child advocacy centers, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and compensation to survivors is essential to assist survivors in escaping and overcoming their abusers." 


Background 
The Crime Victims Fund was created in 1984, based on the principle that the money the federal government collects from those are convicted of crimes should be used to help those victimized by crime. 

Funded by criminal fines and penalties collected by the federal government, the Crime Victims Fund receives no taxpayer dollars. It is used to compensate victims directly and to support victims’ service groups, such as Child Advocacy Centers, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters. Under federal law, money deposited into the Crime Victims Fund may only be used to assist crime victims. 

Even though the federal law provides that money deposited in the Crime Victims Fund may only be used to assist crime victims, for more than a decade, Congress has withheld billions of dollars from victims of crime and instead used that money to pay for other discretionary spending projects. Through a budget gimmick, Congress represents that this already-spent money is still in the Crime Victims Fund and available for victims of crime. 

This legislation would result in more than $2.9 billion being distributed to victims in 2021 – an increase of more than $800 million from 2020. The legislation also ensures the stability of the Crime Victims Fund, guaranteeing victims in South Carolina and across the country the benefits they are owed. 

This legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

Senator Tim Scott was an original co-sponsor of this legislation during the 115th Congress. This bill is endorsed by CHILD USA. 


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