Standing Up for Victims' Rights
Protecting victims of crime should be a top priority for legislatures at all levels of government. When I came to Washington in 2005, there was a void in leadership on issues related to crime victims. After speaking with some of my colleagues, I gathered several like-minded representatives together and co-founded the first Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus. This is a bipartisan caucus that seeks to represent crime victims in the United States through legislation that reflects their interests, rights and needs.
Furthermore, the Victims' Rights Caucus is designed to provide an ongoing dialogue between Congress and national victim assistance programs to enhance public education initiatives and communication. This way, our communities can better understand the impact of crime on victims and get involved in crime prevention and victim assistance.
Protecting the Crime Victim's Fund is a top priority of the Caucus. The Crime Victims’ Fund was started in 1984 to support crime victim assistance programs, helping over 3.8 million people each year. The fund also takes the burden off of victims for financial costs associated with crime, such as unreimbursed medical expenses, lost wages and funeral costs. Instead of being supported by taxpayer dollars, the fund is sustained through the collection of criminal fines and I want to ensure that it continues to be applied to the people it was meant to help. In each of the past years I have been in Congress, I led the effort to appropriate funds so that the Violence Against Women Act could be renewed, ensuring that national sexual assault and domestic violence programs have adequate funding to continue their efforts in our communities.
Victims of crime are our sons and daughters, husbands, brothers, wives and mothers struggling to survive in the aftermath of crime and they deserve our help. I pledge to continue my advocacy on behalf of victims as the co-chair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, enacting compassionate policy and raising awareness of these crucial issues.
More on Standing Up for Victims' Rights
Washington, D.C.– Earlier this week, Rep. Jim Costa, Co-Chair of the Victims’ Rights Caucus, introduced House Resolution 61, the Supporting the Goals and Ideals of a National Stalking Awareness Month.