Congress could cut crime victims fund by 40%, local resources could lose thousands

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – A budget plan in the hands of Congress could cut federal sexual assault victim funding by 40 percent.

Local resources say cuts made last year have already impacted resources in the Grand Strand.

Executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown Counties, Tracy Bowie, says the organization will lose $126,000, if the budget is passed.

“Horry County alone ranks in the top three to five counties every year in the number of sexual assaults and we’re probably one of the smallest agencies in the state,” said Bowie.

The Rape Crisis Center is made up of a team of eight licensed employees.

One position was removed when the federal funding was cut by 18% last year. Two more positions will be removed if congress passes the latest budget proposal.

“This is people’s jobs. This is services and support to victims of violent crime who maybe can’t get any resources anywhere else,” said Bowie.

The Family Justice Center of Georgetown and Horry Counties says it’s satellite office in Myrtle Beach may also be eliminated if funds are cut.

“Through this Victims of Crime Act funding we’re able to provide those services at no cost,” said Bowie.

Funding for the Victims of Crime Act are not made by taxpayer dollars, but rather the people convicted of committing the crime.

Over the last 10 years, the fund has gotten smaller and the pandemic has taken a toll on the court system.

For weeks courts nationwide were not hearing cases, but were accepting plea deals.

“Plea deal funds do not go into that crimes victim fund right now. That’s one of the things that’s kind of being proposed by our coalition and also on the national level to end violence,” said Bowie.

With less money going into the fund and the potential for more cuts, Bowie says victim services are being threatened.

“Plea deal funds do not go into that crimes victim fund right now. That’s one of the things that’s kind of being proposed by our coalition and also on the national level to end violence,” said Bowie.

Bowie says the organization was hopeful in fundraising money before the pandemic hit. She says the Grand Strand now needs the small team more than ever.

“Really asking our community to help support financially. Making sure our legislators know that it’s important that this funding is fixed on the federal level,” said Bowie.

Congressmen Tom Rice responded to News13 with a statement that read in part:

“Crisis Shelters in my district and across the country have been forced to change how they work to protect victims of domestic violence because of Coronavirus. It is essential that these Crisis Centers keep their doors open.  I will continue to work with local, state, and federal leaders to ensure victims of domestic violence are provided with the comfort and support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Congress is expected to vote on the bill next week. Stay with News13 for the latest.

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