FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE VAWO
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2001 202/307-0703
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AWARDS THE VIRGIN ISLANDS $635,000
TO COMBAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
WASHINGTON, DC - Attorney General Ashcroft announced today that the Justice Department is awarding $635,000 to the Territory of the Virgin Islands 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 the Virgin Islands over $3.1 million in STOP funds since 1995, for total funding exceeding $3.5 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.
The Territory of the Virgin Islands has developed a coordinated response to addressing violence against women through the Law Enforcement Planning Commission. The Commission works closely with the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC,) and the Child Abuse Task Forces. The group consists of representatives from non-profit victim service providers, law enforcement, prosecution, probation, family court personnel, batterer intervention program, social workers and victim advocates. With the Fiscal Year 2001 STOP funding, the Territory of the Virgin Islands plans to:
· Enhance the linkages between prosecution, law enforcement and the courts to track arrests, protection orders and violation of orders, and conviction rates;
· Purchase investigative equipment and supplies;
· Enhance protocol procedures for responding to domestic violence calls;
· Conduct a lethality assessment in domestic violence cases;
· Train law enforcement offices, prosecutors, advocates and other personnel
involved in violence against women cases; and
Support a prosecutor and victim liaison position in the Office of the Attorney General.
In addition, the Virgin Islands plans to standardize policies and protocols for all batterer
intervention programs; provide direct services for victims of domestic violence and their children that include counseling, referral services, and legal advocacy; and produce and distribute educational materials for victims on legal assistance and available services.
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 Virgin Islands STOP grant, contact R. Maria Brady, Director of Victim Witness Services, in the Office of the Governor, at 340/774-6400. Information about the STOP program and other initiatives involving violence against women 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 1-800/851-3420.
After hours contact: Angela Harless on 202/616-3266 or pager #888/763-8943