WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) has been awarded $36.3 million to help victims of violent crime in Maryland through the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) grant program.

“Victims of crime need a government on their side. That’s why I fought so hard to increase federal funding to help victims of crime recover and rebuild their lives,” Senator Mikulski said. “VOCA grants provide critical federal and state support to give people a helping hand when they need it most. I will keep fighting to put funds in the federal checkbook that help victims in Maryland create a way forward.”

VOCA grants, which are administered through the Crime Victims Fund, provide federal funds to support state compensation and assistance programs for victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, homicide and other violent crimes. VOCA grants also provide funding to local groups that provide support services like crisis counseling, advocacy and education to victims. Victims’ medical care, mental health counseling and lost wages are also covered by VOCA funding. From 2005 to 2014, Senator Mikulski worked to secure more than $100 million for Maryland victim assistance programs through VOCA. The award for FY15 is more than quadruple the amount Maryland received in FY14 (a total of $8.4 million).

Due to the tough fiscal environment, many national, state and local nonprofit organizations that benefit victims of crimes have reported declines in total revenue and individual contributions as well as increases in expenses and staff layoffs. Meanwhile, demand has skyrocketed for social “safety net” services provided by these organizations. VOCA grants are vital in ensuring there is support for victims and their families.

VOCA established the Crime Victims Fund in 1984 to support direct state victim assistance and compensation programs that include support services such as emergency shelter, crisis intervention, counseling and assistance within the criminal justice system. The Fund provides monetary support for crime victims and their families using money raised through criminal fines and penalties paid by federal offenders, not taxpayer dollars. Every year, VOCA funding serves over 3.5 million victims of crime at approximately 4,400 agencies nationwide.