Murray Discusses Key Investments to Support Victims and Survivors of Violent Crime, Ensure a Fair and Functioning Justice System at DOJ Budget Hearing


***WATCH: Senator Murray’s questioning of Attorney General Merrick Garland***


Washington, D.C. — Today—at a Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of Justice (DOJ)—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, discussed DOJ’s work in protecting Americans’ safety, and emphasized the importance of providing the Department with necessary funding to ensure a fair, functioning system of justice. In opening comments, she said:


“We all want to make sure folks back home have a fair, functioning justice system, and safe communities, which is why we have to make sure DOJ is getting the funding that it needs.


“Effective law enforcement is crucial to protect people from cyber attacks, drug trafficking, gun violence, and so much more.


“It’s critical in holding big corporations accountable for cutting corners and engaging in unfair practices that hurt our consumers.


“And DOJ’s work is vital to fighting bigotry and discrimination and protecting people’s civil rights—including the right to vote.


“So, we cannot shortchange America’s rights, or their safety. That’s why this hearing is so important.”


Senator Murray discussed the importance of stable funding for the Crime Victims Fund established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which provides critical support to victims and survivors of violent crime nationwide—but has seen declining deposits in recent years, putting strain on service providers in Washington state. “The Crime Victims Fund through VOCA accounts for nearly 70% of all funding for services that help victims and survivors of crime in Washington state. And in Tribal and rural communities, those programs rely solely on VOCA funding. But we know that deposits into the Fund have declined recently and have not kept pace with the need—which has led to cuts to service providers in Washington state—meaning less help for victims and survivors, especially in our underserved communities in rural areas and on Tribal lands,” Senator Murray said. She asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss how these programs are important to the Department’s effort to promote public safety and support victims of crime.


Attorney General Garland replied, in part: “The victims money goes to a significant number of different places. It goes to grants to combat violence against women, the so-called STOP grants, the Sexual Assault Services grants, legal assistance programs for victims, transitional housing, the Access to Sexual Assault Nurse Exams, culturally specific services.”


Senator Murray also raised concern over recent reporting from the Seattle Times, which found that detainees at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility at SeaTac in Washington state were unable to receive basic medical care and noted that eight of the 19 health care positions at the facility are currently vacant—and asked Attorney General Garland about what DOJ is doing to improve access to care. Attorney General Garland responded, in part: “The SeaTac Federal Detention Center has strengthened its recruiting efforts and has contracted for several more medical professionals recently. In the last six months, it has tripled the size of its opioid treatment program and provided more routine and chronic care. I think that the Director has gotten the message with respect to the deficiencies there.”


Senator Murray also asked about how the funding the Department has requested for FY25 will help it continue its efforts to combat the crisis of Missing or Murdered Indigenous Peopleespecially women and girlsand how it will help support justice-involved youth.