FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOJP
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1997202/307-0703

1.4 MILLION STALKING VICTIMS ANNUALLY

Justice Department Reports Latest Findings Regarding Stalking

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An estimated 1,006,970 American women are stalked annually and one out of every 12 women is stalked during her lifetime, according to the Justice Department's second annual report to Congress on domestic violence and stalking. The report, "Domestic Violence and Stalking," also shows that an estimated 370,992 men are stalked annually.

The report includes preliminary findings from the first national stalking survey conducted by the Center for Policy Research and jointly sponsored by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Centers for Disease Control. The survey provides information about the incidence of stalking, including who is being stalked and by whom, how many people have been stalked and the characteristics of stalking victims.

"Stalking is an act of terror that builds a prison of fear around its victims," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "This survey indicates that stalking is a bigger problem than we previously thought."

A just-released NIJ bulletin, "The Crime of Stalking: How Big is the Problem?," expands on the same survey. Victims reported being stalked because their assailant wanted to

keep them in a relationship. Of the one-half of female victims stalked by current or former

partners, 80 percent had been physically assaulted by that partner. Twenty-five percent of the women studied had obtained restraining orders, but 80 percent of these orders were violated.

"All fifty states have passed anti-stalking legislation, which provides some protection for victims," said Bonnie Campbell, Director of the Violence Against Women Office. "Effective enforcement of the stalking laws can go a long way toward eliminating this crime."

The study noted that stalking victims can be either men or women, but most stalkers are men and most victims are women. The "Domestic Violence and Stalking" report also confirms that most stalking occurs within the context of a domestic violence situation. The violence tends to increase when a woman leaves her abuser, because her batterer often stalks her in an effort to regain control.

There has been a reported decline in the use of stalking statutes, according to the report, because law enforcement and prosecutors often intervene before the behavior is allowed to escalate to the level required under the anti-stalking laws. The study also reports that victims perceive protection orders as effective tools to stop or reduce domestic violence and stalking if they are an integral part of a coordinated justice system response.

The report contains information on stalking-related programs, strategies and protocols for law enforcement and prosecutors to better investigate and prosecute stalking cases, the Justice Department's response to stalking and domestic violence, data collection, evaluation of stalking-related programs and stalking in cyberspace.

"Stalking: Prosecutors Convict and Restrict," a report developed by the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI) funded by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), was also announced today. It describes initiatives used by local prosecutors to successfully prosecute, convict and sentence stalkers. Two promising anti-stalking programs in Dover, New Hampshire, and Los Angeles, California demonstrate approaches to dealing with common stalking problems and the importance of multi-agency cooperation in both rural and urban settings.

"This report can help law enforcement agencies and prosecutors collaborate to hold offenders accountable and improve victim safety," said Nancy Gist, BJA's Director.

The report contains tips for prosecutors who work with stalking victims, information on federal and state anti-stalking statutes and other strategies to implement anti-stalking programs, such as education and training for law enforcement and prosecutors, centralized management and vertical prosecution of stalking cases and victim notification of a stalker's release.

The APRI report offers prosecutors a guide to using the Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act of 1996 and provides a summary of case law from states in which issues involving stalking legislation have arisen.

To obtain either report or the NIJ Bulletin, contact the National Criminal Justice Reference Service on 1-800/851-3420 or go to http://www.ncjrs.org on the Internet. For more information about Violence Against Women or Bureau of Justice Assistance programs, visit their respective homepages at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo or http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja, or the Office of Justice Programs webpage at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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After hours contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534