Justice Department Awards Georgia $2.8 Million To Combat Violence Against Women

Contact: U.S. Department of Justice VAWO, 202-307-0703


   WASHINGTON, April 26 -- Attorney General Ashcroft announced today that the Justice Department is awarding $2.8 million to Georgia  to prevent and respond to violence against women.  Georgia is one of 20 states to receive grants as part of the first round 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 Georgia over $17.1 million in STOP funds since 1995, for total funding exceeding $19.4 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. 


   Since 1995, the State of Georgia has used its STOP funds to create numerous domestic violence law enforcement teams that respond to all domestic violence calls in the team's jurisdiction.  This approach has led to law enforcement officers' increased familiarity with individual domestic violence incidents, resulting in more appropriate responses to domestic violence calls.  Current project priorities emphasize:


   -- requiring all law enforcement officers to complete a domestic violence curriculum;

   -- increased investigation and prosecution of known offenders; and

   -- assigning all domestic violence cases to a special prosecutor in a particular jurisdiction;


   In FY 2001, Georgia's Victim Services will focus on:


   -- services to victims in the victim's local area and in some instances, surrounding counties; and


   -- outreach to neighboring counties and increased local services, such as referrals, counseling, shelter for domestic violence victims and advocates for assistance with the criminal justice process.


   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.


   The other states receiving awards today are California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.


   For information about the Georgia STOP grant contact Michele Jordan or Martha Gilland, Assistant Division Directors at the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, at (404) 559-4949.  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.


   After hours contact: Angela Harless on 202/616-3266 or pager no. 888/763-8943