FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 14, 2021) - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey announced more than $29 million in grant funding to support victims of crime.
The funds are awarded to 132 crime victim service providers across Kentucky, including prosecutor’s offices, law enforcement agencies and nonprofit organizations that offer direct services to victims of crime. Funds also support advocacy efforts for victims of domestic or sexual violence, civil legal aid, services for children and families affected by physical or sexual abuse and Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) services.
“We remain steadfast in our fight to seek justice for victims of crime and to guarantee that they have an advocate working for them, speaking for them and seeking justice for them,” said Gov. Beshear. “We will continue to fight for every Kentuckian and make sure every victim receives the services they need.”
“The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is the state administering agency for VOCA and works to assure delivery of the most efficient and effective services are made available to survivors to strengthen their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing in the aftermath of a crime,” Secretary Harvey said.
The funds allocated to Kentucky from the Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, are part of the Victims of Crime Act program, known as VOCA. In 1984, Congress passed the Victims of Crime Act, which established the Crime Victim’s Fund and today supports thousands of local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
VOCA funds are replenished each year through fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected from federal offenders by U.S. Attorneys’ offices, federal U.S. courts and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. No tax money supports the Crime Victim’s Fund.
Of the total grant funding announced, an estimated $6.2 million will help to provide services to victims of domestic violence and $3.4 million will go toward services for victims of sexual assault or human trafficking. About $11.7 million will go to Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC), Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs and agencies providing residential care and mental health services for child abuse victims. An estimated $2.6 million will go to prosecutor-based programs and $1.7 will support law-enforcement based programs providing advocacy services for victims of crime in jurisdictions around the commonwealth. An additional $4.6 million has been allocated to programs that serve victims needing services for more than one purpose area.
For a full list of 2021-2022 VOCA sub-award recipients, please visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s website. Leaders from several organizations said what receiving the funds means to their community and for the services that they provide.
“Since receiving VOCA support, we have been able to successfully develop and deploy a victim’s resource unit dedicated to helping our crime victims in need. This unit works hand-and-hand with our Berea Police Officers to assist, support and guide our victims of crime with the resources they need to reduce the overall harm of the incident,” said Eric Scott, Chief of Police for Berea Police Department. “With the support of the VOCA grant, we now have more tools in our toolkit to assist those we serve.”
“VOCA funding has enabled CASA of Northeast Kentucky to expand child advocacy services to three counties that have not had access to CASA services ever before. Carter, Elliott and Morgan Counties are very rural and small in size, so they wouldn't typically be candidates for a stand-alone program,” said Carol Adams, Executive Director of CASA of Northeast KY Executive Director. “However, through a VOCA-funded expansion of CASA of Northeast Kentucky, they are now receiving individualized advocacy services. We are very grateful to be serving more children and are very much aware that this would not continue to happen without VOCA funding. VOCA has given a voice to children in those small, rural counties that more than likely would not have one.”
“La Casita Center's accompaniment to families experiencing crime has been impacted tremendously by the VOCA grant that we were awarded last year,” said Karina Barillas, Executive Director of La Casita Center. “It gave us the opportunity to increase our capacity of the amazing work that we have been doing as pioneers in the state serving Latinx families. It has also given us the opportunity to provide more resources, support and services to families that present unique challenges and marginalization. Muchas gracias from our hearts!”
“VOCA funding allows us to provide forensic interviews as quickly as possible, so that victims can begin to heal and the justice process can be initiated,” said Pamela Carey, Executive Director of the Kentucky River Children’s Advocacy Center. “The funding we receive from VOCA also provides a case manager, who works with the victims we serve, so that their needs can be met immediately and in the future. Without VOCA funding, we would not be able to provide these services in a timely manner.”
“The safety and security of citizens should be the number one priority of a county attorney,” said Tom Weddle, Casey County Attorney. “The passage of Marsy's Law verifies this belief and protects the rights of victims of crimes. Due to the limited funds available to this office, it would be hard to comply with Marsy's Law and to provide the best possible services to the victims of crimes. The decision to award a VOCA grant to this office and to provide additional funding to ensure compliance with Marsy's Law will enable this office to provide better services to the constituents of Casey County and the victims of crimes. Casey County and this office sincerely appreciate this award, and we wish to thank everyone involved in the decision-making process.”
“Thanks to funding from VOCA, adult and pediatric victims of sexual and physical assault receive 24/7 medical forensic services. These victims also receive follow-up care that aids healing. Offering the only SANE/Forensic program in our 10-county region, Baptist Health Hardin’s number of victims continues to rise, so we must continue to provide this much needed, specialized care,” said Tracee Troutt, Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Baptist Health Foundation Hardin.
As of 2020, 125,126 victims in the commonwealth have been served and 236,505 services have been provided through VOCA grant funds.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has awarded more than $60 million in grant funding to victim service agencies across the commonwealth.
In July 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that nearly $2 million in grant funding is available to fight violence against women. The grant program supports law enforcement, prosecution, judicial strategies and victim services.
Also in July 2021, Gov. Beshear announced $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Justice grants awarded to the commonwealth to form the Kentucky State Police (KSP) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Investigative Team. To leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab, statewide investigative jurisdiction and existing connections with local law enforcement agencies, three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst moved from the Office of the Attorney General to KSP. The team will continue to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders to assist in the fight to end domestic violence against all Kentuckians.
As part of the ongoing efforts of the Beshear-Coleman administration to protect victims of sexual assault, Gov. Beshear signed HB 310, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey, of Jefferson County. HB 310 allows a commonwealth attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment, but who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. By signing this bill, the Governor closed a gap in state law that allowed some defendants to avoid both prison time and mental health treatment.