Contact: Violence Against Women Office, 202-307-0703

          or after-hours contact Angela Harless, 202-616-3266

          or (number)888-763-8943 (pager)


   WASHINGTON, July 18  -- Attorney General Ashcroft

announced today that the Justice Department is awarding $2.1

million to Maryland to prevent and respond to violence against

women as part of this year's STOP (Services, Training, Officers and

Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grants Program. This

program is funded under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).


   "No American should feel outside the protection of the law or

beyond the reach of the law. The STOP program supports communities

that champion victims' rights and develops coordinated responses to

violence against women," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "The funds

will give law enforcement and victim services the resources they

need to do a better job of investigating, prosecuting and

preventing crimes against women. We must continue to provide our

communities with the resources to hold offenders accountable and to

meet the needs of victims."


   STOP funds are used to promote partnerships among law

enforcement, prosecution, the courts and victim advocates to ensure

victim safety and accountability for offenders.


   The Justice Department has awarded Maryland over $12.7 million

in STOP funds since 1995, for total funding exceeding $32.2 million

under the VAWA grant programs since the enactment of VAWA

legislation in 1994. In the President's FY 2002 budget request, the

Justice Department seeks $390 million in overall VAWA funding, a

$102.52 million increase over FY 2001.


   Through this funding, states and communities are urged to

restructure and strengthen the criminal justice system response to

domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, utilizing the

expertise of all participants working in the system, including

victim advocates.


   The State of Maryland has used its' STOP funds to address the

gaps identified within the state that are impediments to victims of

domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and stalking in either

accessing the criminal justice system or receiving services

available to them.


   Current project priorities include:


   --Placing a greater emphasis on the development of preferred or

mandatory arrest policies and pro-prosecutorial initiatives with

criminal justice agencies throughout the state;


   --Supporting in collaboration with the statewide coalitions, the

development of training curricula and the provision of training for

criminal justice professionals;


   --Developing "model" policies for initial law enforcement

response to domestic violence and sexual violence crimes;


   --Supporting Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Training for

medical personnel, law enforcement, advocates and others;


   --Providing law enforcement officers easier access to expanded

data bases of domestic violence-related data; and


   --Responding to requests for greater intervention through the

provision of direct services, advocacy, intervention and protection

of domestic violence and sexual assault victims within the State.


   With the 2001 funding, the State of Maryland plans to continue

identifying emerging needs and gaps in services within the state

and improving its efforts for responding to victims of domestic

violence and sexual assault.


   The STOP Program is authorized under the Violence Against Women

Acts of 1994 and 2000. The STOP grants are awarded by the Office of

Justice Programs' (OJP) Violence Against Women Office (VAWO) to

designated state agencies, which must award 25 percent of the funds

they receive to law enforcement, 25 percent to prosecution, 30

percent to victim services, five percent to courts and 15 percent

at the state's discretion for other STOP program purposes.


   For information about the Maryland STOP grant contact Denise

McCain, in the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention,

at 410-321-3521. Information about the STOP program and other

initiatives involving violence against women issues is available on

VAWO's Website at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo or OJP's website at

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov, or by calling the National Criminal

Justice Reference Service toll-free at 800-851-3420.