Funding History

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 crimes.

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.

Victim Compensation

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—

  • Medical costs.
  • 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.

Victim Assistance

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—

  • Crisis intervention.
  • Counseling.
  • Emergency shelter.
  • Criminal justice advocacy.
  • Emergency transportation.

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 for a complete list of contact information for the victim compensation and assistance offices throughout the United States and its territories.

To Contents

State Crime Victim Compensation and Assistance Grant Programs April 2004