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AG Kaul works to secure more funds for victims, survivors of crimes

Attorney General Josh Kaul is spearheading a group of attorneys general from around the country to stabilize funding to support services for victims of crime.
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Posted at 1:31 PM, Feb 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-09 14:31:20-05

Attorney General Josh Kaul is spearheading a group of attorneys general from around the country to stabilize funding to support services for victims of crime.

Debra Gillespie knows firsthand what it means to be a victim of a crime.

"I lost my only son and his two friends to gun violence,” she said.

That was over 20 years ago. Although it was the a time filled with grief and pain, she wasn't alone.

"To have someone help me navigate those waters is a godsend,” Gillespie explained.

Thanks to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, otherwise known as the VOCA Fund, she was able to have a courtroom advocate and other services.

"It was great because that person helped me navigate being a victim and I think that's really important,” Gillespie explained.

The VOCA Fund provides mental health counseling, medical care, lost wages, and much more.

"It's not coming out of taxpayer's dollars, and it's being funded by those who commit crimes. That money should go to the victims,” Gillespie said.

However, that money is running out. 42 attorneys general from around the country are pressing Congress for more funding.

"Over a many year period there's been a drop in the funds that are coming in. And that has resulted in the share being allocated to each state bring reduced,” Attorney General Josh Kaul explained.

He is leading the charge.

“This is where we should be investing resources."

AG Kaul says at one point Wisconsin saw around $45 million in VOCA funding. Now, its slightly under $14 million.

"The drop that we're facing is dramatic,” AG Kaul explained.

A drop that Gillespie says will truly make a negative impact on victims and survivors of crimes.

"Whether its low-income Milwaukee or rural Wisconsin somewhere, they qualify for those funds and they all can benefit.”

VOCA funding for crime victim service programs is expected to be 41% lower nationwide than in 2023. Without congressional action, Kaul and the other attorneys general fear some victim service programs may have to end.