The U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) administers two major formula
grant programs: Victim Compensation and Victim Assistance. During the past decade, these two
programs have greatly improved the accessibility and quality of services for victims of federal and state
The Crime Victims Fund (the Fund), established by the 1984 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), supports
programs that significantly impact the lives of more than 4.2 million crime victims each year. Since its
inception, the Fund has been supported not by tax dollars but by fines, penalty assessments, and bond
forfeitures collected from convicted federal offenders. Legislation passed in 2001 allows the Fund to
also receive gifts, donations, and bequests from private entities. OVC distributes money deposited into
the Fund directly to states to support state compensation and assistance services for victims and
survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, drunk driving, homicide, and other crimes.
All states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto
Rico have established compensation programs for crime victims. These programs
reimburse victims for crime-related expenses such as—
Mental health counseling.
Funeral and burial costs.
Lost wages or loss of support.
Although each state compensation program is administered independently, most programs have similar
eligibility requirements and offer comparable benefits. Maximum awards generally range from $10,000
to $25,000, though a number of states have higher and lower maximums. Compensation is paid only
when other financial resources, such as private insurance and offender restitution, do not cover the loss.
Some expenses are not covered by most compensation programs, including theft, damage, and
property loss. State compensation programs are not required to compensate victims in terrorism cases.
To receive compensation, victims must comply with state statutes and rules, which generally require
victims to cooperate with reasonable requests of law enforcement and submit a timely application to the
compensation program. VOCA funds supplement state efforts to compensate crime victims. Currently,
compensation programs are reimbursed for 60 percent of all eligible state compensation payments from
the previous year. For fiscal years (FY) 1986 through 2003, OVC distributed $1,203,684,429 in
VOCA compensation grant funds.
Each year, states and territories receive VOCA funds to support community-based
organizations that serve crime victims. Approximately 5,600 grants are made
to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, child abuse programs, and
victim service units in law enforcement agencies, prosecutors' offices, hospitals,
and social service agencies. These programs provide services that include—
Criminal justice advocacy.
States and territories are required to give priority to programs serving victims of domestic violence,
sexual assault, and child abuse. Additional funds must be set aside for underserved victims, such as
survivors of homicide victims and victims of drunk drivers.
All states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico receive a base victim
assistance amount of $500,000 each. The territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and
American Samoa each receive a base amount of $200,000. Additional funds are distributed based on
population. For FY 1986 through 2003, states received $3,062,972,335 in VOCA victim assistance
grants from OVC.
State Compensation and Assistance Programs in the United States and U.S. Territories
Please visit http://www.ovc.gov/map.html for a complete
list of contact information for the victim compensation and assistance offices
throughout the United States and its territories.