Tennessee’s District Attorneys Advocate for Funding Support from Federal and State Partners 

DAVIDSON COUNTY, Tenn. (February 28, 2024) Since 1984, millions of victims have been provided essential support and resources through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victims Fund. The FY24 funding proposal currently before Congress proposes cutting appropriations for this fund by $700 million dollars. If passed, this could result in the elimination of direct services for over 10,000 victims of crime throughout Tennessee. 

Tennessee’s District Attorneys use federal VOCA grants to fund 45 specially trained Victim Witness Coordinator (VWC) positions. These VWCs support victims of crime who are navigating the court system by assisting with orders of protection and restraining orders, accompanying victims to court, service referrals, and applying for restitution and crime injuries compensation. Of the more than 10,000 victims served by these coordinators in 2023, approximately 75% were encountering the court system for the first time.  

A group from the Tennessee District Attorneys Conference recently traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with members of the Tennessee congressional delegation to discuss the impact these funding cuts could have on victims of crime.  

“Amid rising crime, it is essential that victims have the resources they need to navigate the court system and seek justice. For 40 years, the VOCA Victims Fund has provided that necessary support,” said Senator Marsha Blackburn. “I enjoyed meeting with members of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference to learn more about how they are working to stand up for victims in our state and ensure that this critical resource remains fully funded.” 

“We have a duty to stand up for victims of crime and ensure that they and their loved ones receive the justice they deserve. As a lawyer by profession, I know first-hand how difficult it can sometimes be to successfully navigate through the legal system. I thank our state’s dedicated District Attorneys for their advocacy to ensure that we all work together to support our fellow Tennesseans who have been victims of crime as they seek justice in a court of law.” – Rep. Chuck Fleischmann 

Congressional appropriations for the VOCA Victims Fund have declined since FY22. For fear this depletion will continue, Tennessee’s District Attorneys met with local legislators Wednesday to advocate for state funding to transfer the 45 VWC positions over to the state payroll.  

“Becoming a victim or witness to a crime can be an extremely traumatic and often overwhelming experience,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland. “As a former assistant district attorney, I know victim witness coordinators play a critical role as advocates for survivors but also in the successful prosecution of cases. We are committed to finding a long-term funding solution that ensures our district attorneys have the resources to keep communities safe and support victims.” 

“Victim witness coordinators are the link that connects victims to the successful prosecution of cases,” explained Sullivan County Victim Witness Coordinator Summer Dean. “Without that link, not only will cases be lost that could’ve been won, but victims will go without their voices being heard and without justice for the crimes committed against them.” 

Left to Right: Mike Dunavant, TNDAGC Deputy Executive Director of Legal Services and Policy; Gen. Steve Mulroy, 30th Judicial District; Senator Marsha Blackburn; Gen. Courtney Lynch, 12th Judicial District; Brittany Lavalle, TNDAGC Deputy Executive Director of Operations

Left to Right: Steve Crump, TNDAGC Executive Director; Brittany Lavalle, TNDAGC Deputy Executive Director of Operations; Gen. Courtney Lynch, 12th Judicial District; Representative Chuck Fleischmann; Gen. Russell Johnson, 9th Judicial District; Gen. Steve Mulroy, 30th Judicial District; Mike Dunavant, Deputy Executive Director of Legal Services and Policy

House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) with Victim Witness Coordinators and District Attorneys from across the state.

About the TNDAGC 

The Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to provide for a more prompt and efficient administration of justice in the courts of the state. It is composed of the elected District Attorneys General from the state’s 32 judicial districts.