Government Victimizes Crime Victims a Second Time

New Report Analyzing Federal and State Victims Comp. Funds Reveals $11 Billion Intended for Crime Victims Languishing in Federal Bank Accounts

Last year, federal, state and local governments spent more than $85 billion on jails and prisons. Yet only $500 million—less than 1 percent of that spent on corrections—was paid directly to crime victims and their survivors from victims compensation funds established to relieve their hardships.

A newly released report on crime victims compensation funds, commissioned by Justice Fellowship, the criminal justice reform and advocacy affiliate of Prison Fellowship Ministries, reveals that:

  • Of the more than 7 million victims of violent crime reported every year, only 200,000 receive assistance from a compensation fund on average (less than 3 percent).

  • The federal Crime Victims Fund (CVF) has a current balance of $11 billion, and some states have as much as $10 million unspent on the victims for which the funds are intended.

  • The federal government has used some CVF funds as an “offset” against spending on other federal programs, and some states have used their funds to balance the state budget or for purposes other than reimbursing victims and survivors.

  • Congress has capped total CVF spending for victims at $745 million, despite the needs of victims and the large federal surplus, and many states pay an average of $250 or less per reported violent crime.

Only three percent of victims and survivors of violent crime received assistance from a victim's compensation fund in 2012, which is unconscionable,” said Justice Fellowship President Craig DeRoche. “Justice Fellowship advocates for a restorative justice approach to criminal justice that prioritizes and affirms victims. This report clearly highlights that victims are not a priority in our current system.”

The report, developed by the Research & Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, exposes a variety of ills plaguing our nation’s victims compensation system and offers practical reforms to help victims and survivors tap into the funds intended for them.

Prison Fellowship Ministries was founded in 1976 by the late Chuck Colson and today is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. Through Justice Fellowship, it promotes a restorative justice approach to criminal justice that respects victims, rehabilitates offenders and repairs communities.