From the Director’s Desk, February 8, 2024
During the briefing, Director Rose provided updates about—
- the proposed Rule to enhance the federal crime victim compensation program,
- the 2024 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week events,
- a new career opportunity,
- a recent site visit to Puerto Rico,
- the status of the Crime Victims Fund,
- and more.
DARYL FOX: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the February 8, 2024 installment of From the Director’s Desk. We’re glad you’re able to join us today. All audio lines are muted, as this is a listen-only briefing. For reference, this recording will be posted tomorrow to the OVC website [ovc.ojp.gov].
At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Kristina Rose, OVC Director, for today’s briefing.
KRISTINA ROSE: Great, thank you so much, Daryl. And good afternoon, or morning, or evening everyone, depending on where you are when you hear this!
It has been one heck of a week here at OVC and I am delighted to announce that the proposed Rule for the federal crime victim compensation program posted on Monday to the Federal Register for public comment. If you’re a News From OVC subscriber, or you visited our website this week, you may have already heard the news. For those of you who might not have any idea what I’m talking about or why I’m so excited, I’d like to give you a little bit of background.
The VOCA Compensation Guidelines, which were last revised in 2001, clarify how federal formula funding from the Crime Victims Fund can be used to support state compensation programs. And over the past two years, we’ve taken steps to update the federal guidelines to increase access and equity when it comes to who receives crime victim compensation. We talked with survivors, direct service providers, state administrators, national advocacy organizations, and our federal partners to learn where changes were really needed.
So, now that the proposed Rule has been published, what does that mean? Well what it means is that anyone can submit comments on the proposed Rule through the Federal Register website. And you can find the link on our homepage, but we’re also going to link to it in the transcript of today’s briefing. If you have comments, please only submit them via the methods described in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. It’s critical that that the public has a chance to see all comments and that they’re recorded accurately. And so for that reason, please don’t direct any comments to individual OVC staff members. Publication of the Rule is a huge step in this process, and a much anticipated one, and I want to thank all of you in advance for your thoughtful review. We look forward to seeing your comments.
I also want to just mention how proud I am to let you know that last week, OVC’s Tribal Division was honored with an Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service in Indian Country. The award was in recognition of the extraordinary achievements of this team in creatively envisioning how grant programs can support bringing justice and healing to crime victims in Indian Country and Alaska Native villages. So big congrats to the Tribal Division.
And in other news, the week prior to that I headed to Puerto Rico with several OVC colleagues to join staff from the Puerto Rico Attorney General’s Office as we met with five OVC subgrantees on the island to see how VOCA dollars were at work. And this trip really left an impression on me. I witnessed innovative approaches to working with crime victims that quite frankly I hadn’t seen before. And I’m going to do a deeper dive into this next month and describe some of these programs, as I’d like to know if others in the mainland tier have seen programs like these and to hear how they’re working. I want to extend a big thank you to Puerto Rico Attorney General Domingo Emanuelli Hernández and U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Stephen Muldrow for welcoming me to Puerto Rico and for their steadfast commitment to serving crime victims there. A very big thank you to Leonardo Caban-Rodriguez and Kristia Díaz Pérez from the Puerto Rico Attorney General’s Office and all the folks from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice who coordinated our site visits and made the whole trip possible. And, by the way, I think I can say now that Puerto Rico might just have the best coffee in America.
Earlier today I attended a round table forum with recent graduates of the Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy. And it’s an initiative that was led by the University of Chicago Crime Lab. Tomorrow the White House will be hosting their graduation ceremony. And this round table gave us at OJP an opportunity to engage with these inspiring leaders and it was really wonderful to be present with them and I want to offer them all just a huge congratulations on their graduation and on all they do to keep our communities safe.
And then just yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to join my Department colleagues at the National Elder Justice Law Enforcement Summit. The summit, which we sponsored alongside DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative and the COPS Office, brought together law enforcement personnel from across the country to hear about emerging trends in elder justice and all the available resources and tools and training and best practices for investigations and collaborations. So that was a lot of fun and I was grateful to be invited to speak there.
And then right afterwards I rushed back to the office because I had the chance to catch up with my good friends from the Domestic Violence Hotline: Katie Ray-Jones, Marium Durrani, and Dorian Karp. And they told me about how the call volume at the hotline is higher than ever. And they’d been looking at ways that they can use technology to expand their ability to connect with everyone who reaches out to the hotline for help. And I know they’re coming up on a big milestone, in terms of callers, you know from the very beginning, from when the hotline was established. And, you know, sad to say that we will be reaching such a huge milestone. I’m not going to reveal what that is, because that may be something they want to announce themselves, but I do want to express how grateful we are that the hotline exists, and that they have been such a consistent and strong support for victims and survivors of domestic violence over the years.
And now, for the Crime Victims Fund update.
In December, $96.7 million dollars was deposited into the Crime Victims Fund, the majority of which came from deferred and non-deferred prosecution agreements. So, thank you VOCA Fix! In fact, it was the third highest total collected in the last year for these kinds of deposits. The balance of the fund currently sits at just over $1.1 billion, and I know you hear me say this every month but I am optimistic that we’re going to reach that $1.2 billion dollar cap that was put forward in the President’s budget and in the House and Senate marks once we get those January figures.
And speaking of funding, OVC’s anticipated FY 24 discretionary grant programs has been released in the DOJ program plan at Justice.gov. These are all dependent on the passage of the FY 24 budget of course. Many of our grant programs are returning for FY 24, so you’ll see a few new ones, including a trauma recovery demonstration project and two initiatives that are--that will support survivors in underserved communities, one which is focused specifically on human trafficking survivors. Now, because we anticipate less discretionary funding in 2024, and we don’t yet have a budget, we had to make some difficult choices about the solicitations that we plan to release this year. So, if you don’t see a particular solicitation that you were looking for, please don’t worry. It might be one of those that we have chosen to not issue this year but will be issuing most likely next year. Those are just some of the difficult changes that we have had to make to our program planning as the budget changes from year to year.
So, I want to close with a few reminders.
First, I hope that you will check out the Featured Resources section of our website [ovc.ojp.gov/news/featured-resources]. For many years now, we have been posting monthly Featured Resources to memorialize important commemorations or new releases, events, and other things. So, for example, February Featured Resources we are recognizing National Black History Month, National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. For each commemoration, we highlight information from OVC, the federal government, and grantees that align with or underscore the various themes of the month. It’s an excellent snapshot of resources that I hope you’ll take advantage of.
And speaking of commemorations, we are finalizing our plans for the Candlelight Vigil and the Awards Ceremony that we host during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. We’ll be sending out registration information this month for both events, but in the meantime, I hope you’ll save the date! The Candlelight Vigil is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24th at 7:00 p.m. and the Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, April 25th at 3:00 p.m. EST. Once again, both events will be held on the National Mall. Now these are free events, and everyone is welcome to attend! So I hope you’ll consider coming to DC for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week this year.
Population certifications for the FY 2024 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Program are due tomorrow, Friday, February 9th [note: the deadline has been extended to Tuesday, February 20, 2024]. So if you are planning to submit, I would start today to account for any technical issues you may be encountering. You can learn more about TVSSA and access to the online form at ovc.ojp.gov/tvssa.
And then finally we just posted another GS-14 vacancy announcement for our Discretionary Programs Division. This grant management position will have a focus on elder fraud and justice. The application period ends next Monday, February 12, so if you’re interested get those applications in! More information is available in an announcement on the OVC homepage [ovc.ojp.gov].
And I just wanted to say I appreciate all the wonderful feedback that I receive about these broadcasts. And I want you to know that if you have specific things that you want to hear more about, please let us know. Would love to improve these in any way that we can and make sure that these are always useful to you.
So thank you for your time, and for everything that you do to help crime victims find their justice. Take good care and we’ll talk next month.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.