Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) is pleased to announce that the Department of Justices Office of Justice Programs has awarded more than $610 million in grants to support crime victims.

Awarded under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), this funding goes to provide state and local victim assistance and compensation programs. The Crime Victims Fund, which is overseen by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), is unique that it is comprised of fines, penalty assessments, and bail forfeitures collected from convicted federal criminals not taxpayer money. The state compensation programs reimburse victims and their families directly for expenses related to their victimization, including medical and mental health costs and funeral and burial expenses.

Crime victims are not statistics, said Poe. They are real men, women and children with families and loved ones, and those victims who manage to survive the acts of violence must not be excluded from the criminal justice system. Their voices must be heard.

The VOCA fund is a crucial resource, on which many communities and local organizations rely, Poe continued. In addition to helping victims of crime offset medical expenses, and in the worst cases funeral expenses, the fund also provides much needed funding for local agencies such as rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.

The Victims of Crime Act was enacted by the initiative of President Ronald Reagan to pay for crime victim services and compensations. There are over 4,000 agencies that depend upon VOCAs victim assistance funds to provide direct services to more than 3.5 million crime victims annually.

As the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus, Congressman Poe has been a leading advocate on behalf of victims of crime. The Caucus has been successful in authoring legislation to help raise awareness to the issue, as well as protecting the VOCA fund.

Before serving in Congress, Congressman Poe served as a prosecutor and judge in Houston, Texas for 30 years. Congressman Poe is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.