U.S. Congressman Ted Poe announced today that the FY06 Science, Department of State, Justice, and Commerce and related agencies appropriations bills language did not include the rescission of Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds. The VOCA Fund is a crucial resource, on which many communities and organizations rely. It assists rape crisis centers; domestic violence shelters; and victims cover court costs, funeral services, and medical expenses.

This is an encouraging first step in the appropriations process, Rep. Poe said. It is our hope that the Senate and conferees will continue to protect this vital funding stream for victims. Rescinding any amount, all or part, of the VOCA Fund which is comprised of fees, fines, and forfeitures collected from criminals not taxpayer money would constitute an unforgivable travesty that would only re-victimize crime victims.

Congressman Poe led the bipartisan coalition of Member of Congress to urge Chairman Jerry Lewis to continue the funds. The coalition teamed up with the nations leading victims groups in a massive grassroots effort.

Judge Poes passionate commitment to protecting abused and neglected children has been instrumental to restoring critical VOCA funds to the budget, said U.S. Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. His voice and actions in Congress reflect the same common-sense, no-nonsense style he brought to the bench in Texas.

The extraordinary effort of our Congressional allies, spearheaded by Representative Ted Poe clearly turned the tide in a crucial budget battle where the very survival of thousands of victim organizations, and the lives of the countless victims, hung in the balance, David Beatty, Executive Director, Justice Solutions said.

Victims and survivors deserve a helping hand to guide them through their darkest hours in order to turn tragedy into triumph and VOCA enables MADD and other victim service organizations to be that helping hand, MADD National President, Wendy J. Hamilton said.

Under the proposed Budget, the over $1.2 billion currently housed in the Crime Victims Fund was in grave danger of rescission. Enacted through the initiative of President Ronald Reagan, the Victims of Crime Act pays for victims services and compensations. It operates on money collected from criminal offenders not taxpayers that is then placed in the Crime Victims Fund. There are approximately 4,400 agencies that depend upon VOCAs victim assistance funds to provide direct services to 3.6 million crime victims annually. An additional 165,000 victims received some $434 million (state and VOCA funds) in crime victim compensation benefits. Currently, VOCA is the only federal program that supports services to victims of all types of crime: homicide fatalities, drunk driving, elder financial exploitation, identity theft, robbery, and rape.

Spearheading the effort to protect VOCA funding, Congressman Poe co-chairs the Congressional Victims Right Caucus that he founded this session of Congress. He has over 22 years experience dealing with criminal cases as a felony court judge and a prosecutor. He is a leading authority on crime, justice, and childrens issues.

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