Crime Victims Fund supporting survivors of abuse needs more funding

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Resources may be at risk for a local non-profit supporting survivors of abuse.

Carol Merna, CEO of the Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria, said the federal funding it depends on is in jeopardy.

The Crime Victims Fund created by the Victims of Crimes Act of 1984 (VOCA) supports 20% of the non-profit’s annual budget, and Merna said there would be devastating consequences if the money is not replenished.

“We don’t expect survivors of crime to pay for their recovery, and people come to us terribly impacted by trauma, and haunted from pain from past abuse, and it is incumbent on us to make sure that they receive the care that they need,” she said.

The fund was created nearly 40 years ago and is funded through non-taxpayer sources.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is the lead sponsor of S. 611 VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Act of 2021. Instead of being deposited into the Treasury’s general fund as it currently stands, monies collected from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements would serve as a new source of revenue for the Crime Victims Fund.

Thursday on the Senate Floor, Durbin read aloud a letter from Merna stressing the need to pass the bill. He then asked for unanimous consent but Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was the sole objector.

At a presser Friday, Durbin said passing the bill means life or death for many survivors of crime.

“It means peace of mind, and safety, and the children have a fighting chance. When we’re talking about crime victims, their lives are in danger, not just rough, but in danger, and that’s why we have to move in it quickly,” he said.

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