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June 29, 2018

DISCIPLES CENTER FOR PUBLIC WITNESS ENDORSES THE SURVIVE ACT

The Disciples Center for Public Witness (www.disciplescenter.org) joined with other denominational and faith-based groups to support the SURVIVE Act. If passed, this bill would give Native American tribes a permanent 5% set aside of the Crime Victims Fund, which provides crucial resources and services to victims. Without a tribal set aside, this funding does not reach Native communities, even though they have the highest victimization rates in the country. Click here to read a letter to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, urging them to move forward with this important piece of legislation.

Read statements below: 

June 19, 2018
House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
Re:  H.R. 4608 – SURVIVE Act

Dear Representative:
As faith-based advocacy organizations and service providers committed to uplifting Native American concerns, we write to you to ask you to support the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act, H.R. 4608.
We are members of the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC) Native American Working Group, composed of faith based organizations from a broad range of religious traditions, and we are committed to the well-being of all our neighbors.  We are led not only by compassion, but also by a sense of justice, acknowledging the historic role of faith groups and others in restricting the cultural and economic cohesion of Indian nations here on this continent.  We seek to heal our connections with Native people, and to ensure Congress upholds its trust responsibilities with tribes. Congress has an obligation to provide the resources needed to enable tribes to self-govern and to effectively deliver essential services to tribal communities
The Department of Justice has found that on some reservations, the murder rates of Native women are ten times the national average. 83% of American Indian and Alaska Native adults have experienced violence in their lifetime. Native communities face some of the highest crime victimization rates in the country yet many of these victims are less likely to access victim services.
The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was enacted in 1984 and established the Crime Victims Fund (CVF). This Fund establishes grant funding to support victim services such as domestic violence shelters, counseling, and court advocacy. In addition to services, the Fund provides victims compensation to cover medical care, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages. The CVF is funded only though the money the government collects from criminal fines and penalties. Prior to FY 2018, tribes have only indirectly received funding which amount to less than 0.7% of available funds.
Each year, tribes have had to lobby through the budget appropriations process to receive funding, but this strategy is only a temporary fix for a significant need. Tribes require a permanent, authorized set aside from the Crime Victims Fund, which is why we’re asking you to support the (HR. 4608/S. 1870) SURVIVE Act.
We support the SURVIVE Act because it amends the VOCA to include tribes in grant funding, and provides a 5% set aside for tribes. Having access to the CVF will improve the safety of tribal communities and provide needed resources for Native victims of crime.
This bill has strong bipartisan support, and will provide equal access to the Fund without increasing overall spending. Grant funding will go towards culturally-appropriate victim services such as domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, and crisis intervention and prevention. It will be instrumental for improving safety in tribal communities and helping Native victims of crime in this current epidemic of violence, especially against Native women.
We believe the SURVIVE Act’s creation of a long-term support mechanism for victim services will both prevent crime and violence, and will help victims heal. It is a long-due step forward for the safety of Native peoples, and we urge you to support this important bill.

WISC Native American Working Group
                  Friends Committee on National Legislation
                  Office of Justice and Ecology, Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
                  Franciscan Action Network
                  Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice
                  Mennonite Central Committee US Washington Office



H.R.4608/S. 1870: The SURVIVE Act
Background
·       American Indian and Alaska Native populations suffer significantly higher crime rates than the rest of the US.[i].
·       On some reservations, Native women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average, with more than 4 in 5 Native women experience a form of violence in their lifetime[ii].
·       According to the National Institute of Justice, Native female are more likely to need victim services, but they are less likely to have access to those services.[iii]
In 1984, the Victims of Crime Act created the Crime Victims Fund. This Fund establishes grant funding to support victim services such as domestic violence shelters, counseling, and court advocacy. In addition to services, the Fund covers medical care, funeral and burial costs, and lost wages. Money in the Fund originates from criminal fines, penalties, and forfeited bonds, not from taxes or annual appropriations
Despite the high rates of victimization, tribes have been unable to directly access the Crime Victims Fund. The FY 2018 Omnibus was the first-time tribes received a 3% set aside, and the FY 2019 Appropriations bill gives tribes a 5% set aside. However, tribes still need a permanent fix allowing for at least 5% of the Crime Victims Fund, which is why advocates have supported the SURVIVE Act. The SURVIVE Act is ready for full Senate consideration, but on the House side, remains in the Judiciary Committee.
What the SURVIVE Act will do:
·       Amends the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 to include tribal access the grant funding
·       Creates a 5% set aside for tribes from the Crime Victims Fund
·       Grant monies from the Fund will support comprehensive and culturally appropriate services to crime victims, their families, and the community.


[i] Criminal Victimization, 2010, National Crime Victimization Survey, Bulletin, September 2011, NCJ 235508 http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ cv10.pdf (accessed august 24, 2012).
[ii] NCAI Policy Research Center (2018). Research Policy Update: Violence Against American Indian Women and Girls. National Congress of American Indians, February 2018.
[iii] Rosay, A. (2016). Violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men: 2010 findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (United States, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice).

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