FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE VAWO
FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 2001 202/307-0703
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AWARDS SOUTH DAKOTA $796,000
TO COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
WASHINGTON, DC - Attorney General Ashcroft announced today that the Justice Department is awarding $796,000 to South Dakota 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 South Dakota over $4.2 million in STOP funds since 1995, for total funding exceeding $13.9 million under the VAWA grant programs since the enactment of the 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.
South Dakota continues to fund projects that address identified needs and improve the criminal justice system’s response to violent crimes against women.
Current project priorities emphasize:
· Supporting victim services programs provided by shelters throughout the state;
· Training on the dynamics of domestic violence for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, court personnel and advocates;
· Developing or enhancing law enforcement agencies’ polices and procedures that address violent crimes against women;
· Funding for the South Dakota Unified Judicial System to hire domestic violence coordinator positions within the two busiest circuits in the state, Minnehaha and Pennington County courthouses; and
· Funding a pilot project that will subsidize the cost of the court-ordered treatment for batterers. This project will be implemented by the Family Violence Project in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. At the end of three years, a decision to replicate this treatment program will be considered for other areas within the state.
Specifically, South Dakota has used its STOP funds to:
· Underwrite the cost of Polaroid cameras and film for law enforcement agencies who have received domestic violence training. The cameras are used to obtain photographs that can be used to augment the officers’ written report and help ensure a successful report.
· Sponsor a statewide Domestic Violence Institute every other year to train approximately 350 participants, including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, court personnel, judges and advocates.
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, 5 percent to courts and 15 percent at the state’s discretion for other STOP program purposes.
For information about the South Dakota STOP grant, contact Susan Sheppick, Program Specialist, South Dakota Department of Social Services, at 605/773-4330. Information about the STOP program and other initiatives involving violence against women issues is available on VAWO’s Website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/vawo or OJP’s Website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov, or by calling the National Criminal Justice Reference Service toll-free at 800/851-3420.
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After hours contact: Angela Harless on 202/616-3266 or pager #888/763-8943