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1994 NOVA Newsl. 1 (1994)

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News letter

                                                            Volume  17, Number  I (of 12 Issue, 19

VAWA, VOCA Revisions Lead Reforms

      Crime Bi     Opens Opportunities to Aid Victims

Editor 19 note: all other Newsletter articles
and reports were put on  hold to bring
readers this expanded. timely. single-topic
issue. NOVA  invites our comments  on
the crime b/i.

     The much-debated crime bill signed
into law on September 13, 1994, contains
many funding programsoand policychanges
of intrest to victim advoc t   opping
the list are the initiatives in Title IV, the
Violence Against Women  Act (VAWA),
and r'forms in th admmii.stration of the
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).  found in
Title XXIII.
    In general, NOVA   and others who
supported VAWA   and the VOC A retFrms
were gratilied with the final language in
those two titlcs. But the'y were alsopleased
with the way Congr.ss displayed concern
for victims in other pats of the bill.
    The  two charts that follow show-
ing, fir t, funding programs and reports
mandated  by the law, and second, its vic-
tim-oriente'd polices were  c Illed as a
guide lo victim advocates. Comments fr
each sumnmarized section attempt to put it
in context orto highlight its potential ben-
efits to the vi tims mv ementL
    As those comments suggest. opportu-
nities to improve victim rights and services
go beyond the victim assistan -gr nt pro-
grams.  T'o cite two examples from the
chart, victim advocates might s uceed in
making  victim assistance a subject of law
enforcement  training under the massive
Cops on the Beat program; and they may
find the new prison construction program
gives them leverage to update their states'
victim rights laws.
     Similarly, several of the . ections un-
der the title on Crime Prevention suggest
collaboration between professionals i the
violence prevention and victim assistance

ficds, and so are highlighted to encourage
victim advocate: to build those bridges.
    Readers will spot one oddity in the
funding charts. In the column showing the
funding level for Federal fiscal year 1995
(which began on  October 1, 1994), the
most  o mn ntry is   none, followed
by authorivation levels in later years, typi-
cally stretching to fiscal year 2000.
    This relates to the method Congress
devi.'cd to pay for the various programs. It
opted to earmark about $30 billion in say-
ings already voted on (government per-
sonne  reductions that were part of deficit
containment and  re-mventing govern-
ment initiatives) nd to call that savings
pool the Violent Cnme Reduction Trust
Fund' from which Congress can appro-
priate money  only for crime programs
durng  the five-year lie of the Trust.
    For practical reasonst ongress de-
cided to delay the start of that five-vear
pri od for a year. I h good  new,  for
victim advocates and others interested in
those programs is that they have a year or
more  to plan well-designed, competitive
projects in the new proiram areas.
    The  bad news is that there remains
some  uncertainty as to the actual funding
in those future years. The dollar figures
cited are all authorcatnon. of what may be
spent; actual appropriations, voted on an-
nually, may  not go higher but can be
reduced ifCongresschooses. Futurecon-
gresses are likely to to honor the commit-
ments made  by this Congress, but that is
not guaranteed. In fact, Republican candi-
dates who signed their party's contract
with America pledged to oppose funding
for the programs authorized in the crime
prevention title.
    That raises a delicate issue. For the
record, NOVA  members should know that
we support the crime prevention programs

for several reasons: our basic statement of
purposes mandates that we do so; we are
proud ofour tradition, started by collagics
in the rape crisis and domestic violence
fields'ofperforming public awareness and
other preventive services; we support the
opportunities for inter-disciplina  team-
work noted in the charts; and, as the theme
of NOVA's   1994 annual conference pro-
claimed, we are committed t) strengthen-
ing the partnership between violence pre-
vention and victim assistance.
    Thus, to be at odds with Congres-
sional Republicans on this point is discom-
forting, especially since NOVA has al-.
ways found champions of its policy agen-
das in both parties, including its support of
crime prevention efforts. As a leader in the
victims' movement -- a so-called coali-
tion of bleeding-heart conservatives and
hard-nosed liberals- - NOVA  has every
hope  of sustaining good relations with
friends on both sides of the aisle.
    Victim  advocates who want  to ex-
plore the fine print in some of the provi-
sions summarized in the charts may seek to
get a copy of the Violent Crime Control
Act  from their Member of Congress  or
Senator, Among  the many details left out
here are, for example, a number of grant
set-asides for Indian tribal governments.
    As  the lead agency in implementing
the entire crime bill, the U.S. Department
of Justice has established a Response Cen-
ter that can be reached at (800) 421-677(r
It has a series of recorded messages and,
from 9 to 5. Eastern time, agents to try to
answer specific messages - such how to
receive grant guidelines when they are
    NOVA will   attempt to monitor the
implementation of all the policies and pro-
grams described here, and will report any
significant developments that arise. O

'vice to the NOVA memnbership nd thegem
OVA. C01994 by the Nationat Organizatio>
nd copyright are appropriately noted

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