SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1998 AT 12:01 A.M.202/307-0703


Monies Assist States in Funding Victims Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than $324 million was collected from criminal fines and penalties during Fiscal Year 1998 for the Crime Victims Fund, the Justice Department announced today. The Fund deposits, which are paid by convicted federal criminals, not taxpayers, support thousands of programs for crime victims.

The Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which administers the Fund, is the federal government's chief advocate for crime victims and their families. OVC awards over 90 percent of the money collected each year to states to assist in funding state victim compensation and assistance programs.

"With these funds, we can assist victims who are recovering from the trauma often associated with victimization," said Kathryn Turman, Acting OVC Director. "We also train those who work with victims and develop projects to enhance victims' rights and services."

OVC also responds to multiple victim tragedies, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Capitol Hill shootings and the embassy bombings in Africa. Community crisis response teams assist victims on site through crisis counseling, debriefings and trainings in the aftermath of criminal incidents that have significant impact on communities.

"It's very gratifying for our prosecutors to see their efforts further benefit the community," said Donna Bucella, Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. "Because of aggressive prosecutions and collection efforts by the U.S. Attorneys, OVC is able to help fund nearly 3,000 victim services agencies, such as domestic violence shelters, child abuse programs, rape crisis centers and programs that assist survivors of homicide victims."

Fines collected in one year by United States Attorneys, the U.S Courts and Bureau of Prisons are deposited into the Fund and are available for grant awards in the following year. The first $10 million, divided between OVC and the Department of Health and Human Services, is used to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases. Three percent of Fund monies support training and technical assistance projects across the country to improve the delivery of services to crime victims. Remaining funds go to state victim compensation and assistance programs.

Compensation programs work similarly to private insurance, reimbursing victims of crime directly for such crime-related expenses as medical treatment, counseling, funeral costs and lost wages. State victim assistance programs provide funds to community agencies that assist crime victims through crisis intervention, criminal justice advocacy, counseling, emergency shelter and other services.

Deposits into the Fund fluctuate from year to year. Almost $529 million was deposited in 1996, primarily due to a $340 million fine levied against the Daiwa Bank following the settlement of its illegal trading fraud case. In Fiscal Year 1997, $362.9 million was deposited into the Fund.

For more information about the Crime Victims Fund and OVC, visit OVC's web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc or OJP's web site at http://www.ojp/usdoj.gov. Or, call the Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872.



After hours contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534 or page on 888/582-6750