Office of the Attorney General
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL U.S. ATTORNEYS
FROM: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
SUBJECT: Department Fine Collection Efforts
I want to highlight an important, positive impact of your prosecution efforts and to urge you aggressively to collect fines from defendants convicted of Federal crimes. Restorative justice is served well by your regular contributions to the Crime Victims Fund (Fund), a funding source created within the U.S. Treasury by the victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA). The Fund consists of fines, bail bond forfeitures and special assessments paid by the defendants that you convict of Federal crimes. Just as significant, and perhaps more consequential for crime victims, are the dedicated, persistent efforts of your financial litigation staff. Successful fine recoveries make greater Federal resources available to assist our Nation's crime victims with their physical, emotional and financial recoveries. Your fine collection efforts result in our being able to provide battered women with safe shelter, sexually abused children with counseling, and survivors of homicide victims with funds to pay for funeral services. Last fiscal year, unfortunately, Fund deposits were substantially down, thereby reducing the amount of Federal funding available for FY 1994 victim services grants.
These funds help to support some 2,500 providers of rape crisis counseling, shelter and crisis intervention (VOCA assistance subgrantees) and VOCA state compensation grantees. The providers of assistance are primarily small non-profit organizations that operate on small budgets and draw from volunteer services. Many are managed by crime victims. All rely extensively on this Federal support.
Since deposits were first made into the Fund in l985, over $1 billion has been collected and $829.7 million has been directly applied to help crime victims. While there has been a general trend toward increased Fund deposits over the years (from $68.3 million in 1985 to a record high of over $221 million in 1992), Fiscal Year 1993 showed a decrease in Fund deposits. The negative impact will be felt by victim organizations and crime victims alike.
I encourage you to make FY 1994 a banner year for Crime Victims Fund deposits. Please vigorously collect outstanding fines levied on defendants within your districts.
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), within the Office of Justice Programs, is responsible for administering the Fund and is the Federal focal point for issues affecting crime victims. Just two months ago, I accepted an OVC invitation to present the annual Crime Victims Fund Awards -- an honor bestowed annually on Federal employees who demonstrate outstanding efforts resulting in increased Fund deposits. This year, examples of recognized special efforts to improve fine collections included:
Efforts undertaken by the U.S. Marshals' Service Headquarters Judgement Enforcement Team to locate debtors, serve court orders, and perform financial investigations for hidden assets, under the leadership of Joseph P. Briggs;
Special commitment to fully enforce bond forfeiture judgments that in the past may have been negotiated, by Elizabeth Ruf Stein, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; and
Development of innovative procedures to increase inmate participation in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program, undertaken by Jim Otte, Unit Manager for the Federal Correctional Institution in Bastrop, Texas.
I urge you to support the efforts of these colleagues and join with them to increase Fund deposit levels and enhance the provision of victim services throughout the country.