10-22-97 - Speech by Attorney General Janet Reno at the National Sheriff's Association Meeting

 4                    ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO
 5                        AT EMORY UNIVERSITY 
20                     Thursday, October 23, 1997
21                          Emory University
22                          Atlanta, Georgia

 1                                              (8:10 p.m.)
 2                          ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Thank you
 3      so very much, Ms. Carter.  You and President Carter are
 4      to me what public service is all about, whether be in
 5      an official position or in your life, and you have
 6      inspired me.  
 7                          And I'd like to share a moment with
 8      you, particularly the students, some of whom I've had a
 9      chance to talk with today.  There is no calling more
10      rewarding than public service.  You may do it as a
11      volunteer, you may do it as a career employee or an
12      elected official.  There is nothing quite so wonderful
13      as trying to help other people.  Now, sometimes we will
14      get cussed at, fussed at.  But there is nothing more
15      wonderful than to walk up a platform with the
16      dedication of the church rebuilt after an arson in a
17      small South Carolina town, and to have a lady break
18      through the rope lines and say, "Janet, you got me
19      child support when you were in Miami."  And I go up to
20      her and she gives me a big hug and she says, "And these
21      are the two young men you got child support for."  
22                          So I urge you, whatever you do,
23      pursue public service as a volunteer or in some part of
24      your life.  You will find it so extraordinarily
25      rewarding.  But as you do, I offer some words of

 1      advice:  Don't get focused too narrowly.  Sometimes the
 2      lawyers go down their little pink trail and the
 3      teachers down their little trail and somebody else down
 4      their path.  Reach out to disciplines and bring them
 5      together and pursue your objectives in public service
 6      across a gardening of human endeavor.  
 7                          Don't forget the funding.  There
 8      are so many people that pursue public service in
 9      concept but forget about how to pay for it.  And it's
10      often very helpful to learn how to pay for it.
11                          Use common sense, use logic, and
12      rely on research.  Rely on the hard data.  Too often we
13      make public policy decisions without really knowing
14      what we're talking about.  But there is something so
15      important in being able to motivate and inspire
16      somebody and bring out the best in people and make them
17      understand that every single one of us can make a
18      difference for the better and the life of another if we
19      only try hard enough.
20                          Finally, don't give up.  There are
21      things that I tried to change ever since I graduated
22      from law school.  And I sometimes think I'll never
23      change it.  But there are other things that I started
24      changing slowly.  I'd like it to go faster, but they're
25      changing.  Don't give up.  Believe in people and never

 1      forget to laugh at yourself.  
 2                          And that's what I've tried to do in
 3      the twenty years, almost twenty years, that I've either
 4      been a local prosecutor or the attorney general.  And
 5      there is one issue among others that has been of vital
 6      concern to me and that I feel very deeply about, and
 7      that is the issue of domestic violence.  
 8                          I have never been confronted by
 9      domestic violence until I became prosecutor in 1978. 
10      The medical examiner in Miami said, "Come look at our
11      records for the last twenty years.  Use research.  See
12      how you can devote your attentions."  And we had some
13      interns from the university go research the records,
14      and we found that forty percent of the people killed in
15      the previous period had been killed as a result of
16      domestic violence.  
17                          We developed a grant during that
18      time and developed a domestic intervention program.  At
19      first it was very frustrating.  The judges said but
20      it's a domestic.  Police officers said but it's a
21      domestic.  The victims would come in and say, "But I
22      love him and I depend on him and I don't want to
23      prosecute him."  And we would only see them back a year
24      or two or else she would be one of the victims who case
25      was studied.

 1                          But times began to change.  And as
 2      I left Miami, we had a domestic violence court.  And
 3      people considered domestic violence a crime and not
 4      just a private matter.  And police officers were
 5      beginning to take the matter seriously.  And it was
 6      exciting.  And part of it was because women were coming
 7      to the bench and women were becoming police officers
 8      and women were becoming prosecutors and women were
 9      impacting on public policy.  
10                          And yet today, with all these
11      advances, too many Americans still live in fear of the
12      people on who they depend for love and for protection. 
13      Instead of providing refuge, the walls of the home have
14      served for too many as prison bars, isolating battered
15      women from help and trafficking in violent
16      relationships.
17                          In 1995, four million American
18      women were victims of violent crimes generally.     
19      Two-thirds of these women were victimized by someone
20      they knew.  In 1996, thirty percent of female murder
21      victims were killed by their current or former husband
22      or boyfriend.  Seventeen percent of victims were women
23      who were admitted to emergency room for injuries by
24      somebody with whom they had an intimate relationship.  
25                          We also know that domestic violence

 1      is an under reported crime.  Almost six times as many
 2      women victimized, they don't report.  That's an
 3      estimate.  But it tells you the magnitude of the
 4      problem.  These figures are unacceptable.  I call on
 5      everyone to review our efforts against domestic
 6      violence.  This is a crime that can be prevented.  This
 7      is a crime for which we have warning signals.  There
 8      are too many crimes that are random in nature and could
 9      not possibly be prevented except by the most remotest
10      of chances.  But these are crimes that can be prevented
11      if we intervene the cycle of violence and take steps to
12      resolve the conflicts.
13                          We must review our efforts against
14      domestic violence for another reason.  That child who
15      watches his father beat his mother comes to accept
16      violence as a way of life.  He will become the
17      perpetrator or he will be become the violent youngster
18      on the streets of this nation.  We will never end
19      violence in America unless we begin within the home. 
20      So much as been accomplished, yes.  But we have so
21      much, much more to do.   
22                          President Clinton has made the
23      fight against domestic violence a top priority.  The
24      Violence Against Women Act is a landmark piece of
25      legislation in its scope and in its mission.  The Act

 1      which was passed with the bipartition support of
 2      congress in 1994 is a crucial turning point in our
 3      national efforts to break the cycle of domestic
 4      violence and sexual assault.  
 5                          The Act's approach is very simple. 
 6      It challenges us to build an integrated partnership
 7      among federal, state and local entities, the private
 8      sector and the public sector, and to work together with
 9      victims' advocates to make a difference in the lives of
10      women and their families.  In addition, the Act
11      establishes grant programs that are forges unique
12      partnerships between the federal and our state
13      governments and between the criminal justice system and
14      the different advocates.  
15                          Through its simple grant program,
16      the Stop Program, a total of one hundred and thirty
17      million dollars was awarded in the fiscal year of 1996
18      to the states and territories.  In fiscal year 1997,
19      congress appropriated all of the authorized money, over
20      one hundred and forty-five million dollars for the Stop
21      Program, indicating the strength of the national
22      commitment to fight this problem.  But we've got to
23      make sure these monies are used for the right way, in
24      the states and localities, in rural areas across this
25      nation.

 1                          By design the Stop grant program
 2      promotes a coordinated approach.  It provides
 3      incentives for states to pool the expertise and
 4      resources of law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and
 5      victims advocates.  Here in Georgia, the Stop Program
 6      funded fifty-six projects utilizing over two million
 7      dollars of federal funding to train local law
 8      enforcement on domestic violence and sexual assault
 9      cases, and to hire new prosecutors and investigators
10      devoted specifically to domestic violence and sexual
11      assault cases.  Stop grants funded rape crisis centers,
12      domestic violence stalkers and projects that help
13      undeserved victims, including minorities and          
14      non-English speaking women.
15                          We must, if we care about our
16      communities, make sure that we see these funds used in
17      the best way possible to ensure that every police
18      department has police officers trained in how to handle
19      a domestic violence case, that prosecutors are trained
20      in how important it is to sensitively handle these
21      cases and to work with these victims as they proceed
22      through the criminal justice system so they're not  
23      re-victimized once again by the system, to make sure
24      that we have judges on the bench that know how
25      important it is to see that these cases are handled

 1      fairly and objectively with appropriate disposition and
 2      that probation officers are prepared and ready to help
 3      intervene and to help provide crisis counseling during
 4      the course of the probation.  
 5                          Community policing is a remarkable
 6      tool.  In Florida we developed at team, a community
 7      resource team, composed of the community friendly
 8      community police officer, public governors and a local
 9      youth counselor, focusing on one housing project.  They
10      solved many of their problems within the first six
11      months or year.  But the problems that persisted were
12      the problems of family violence and the conflicts of
13      family violence.  And again, community police officers
14      can make such a difference.  
15                          The justice department's COPS
16      Program, Community Oriented Policing Services
17      represents the administrations commitment to put more
18      community-friendly police officers on the streets of
19      this nation.  Through our experience, we have learned
20      that community policing needs to be a part of the
21      community-wide response to domestic violence.  
22                          It's the police officer who is so
23      often on the front line and he gets the call to
24      respond.  And too often that is a very dangerous call
25      to make.  The COPS domestic violence program fosters

 1      partnerships between law enforcement and victims
 2      advocates at the community level.  Through this program
 3      we allocated over forty-six million dollars to fund
 4      innovative domestic violence services in more than
 5      three hundred police departments and sheriff's offices
 6      around the country.  
 7                          In Atlanta, Fulton County, and
 8      other communities throughout Georgia, COPS domestic
 9      violence grants are providing in depth training to
10      police officers and 911 personnel and improving
11      coordination between law enforcement and victim service
12      providers.  
13                          We have got to make sure that these
14      are not isolated areas of expertise, but that every
15      police station in this country has the capacity to
16      respond and interrupt that cycle of violence before it
17      is handed down to another generation.
18                          Another recent innovation in the
19      fight against domestic violence is specialized domestic
20      violence courts.  These courts involve coordination for
21      various court actions in which a battered woman
22      frequently is involved in.  Often she must go to the
23      one court for a protection order, another to begin
24      permanent custody or divorce proceedings and yet
25      another to testify in the criminal prosecution of her

 1      abuser.  With all of these matters -- While all of
 2      these matters stem from the same incident or incidents
 3      of abuse, each case is often heard by a different
 4      judge, which in turn can result in orders with
 5      conflicting provisions.  To enable courts to improve
 6      coordination and to provide streamline assistance of
 7      battered woman, a number of court systems throughout
 8      the country have developed specialized domestic
 9      violence courts that integrate the functions.
10                          Victims are also better served by
11      the intake centers of these courts, which provide  
12      one-stop problems for information regarding protection
13      orders, child support, custody, divorce and criminal
14      prosecution as well as referable shelters, counseling
15      program and for legal services.
16                          I was asked today by a student,
17      "Why do you think we don't have confidence in our
18      government?"  One of the reasons is that government
19      doesn't set itself up very well.  You have to go one
20      place for information about restraining orders to be
21      told you have to go another place to apply for the
22      order to be told you have to go to another court to
23      actually have the case heard can get frustrated.  And
24      in that time, as I have too tragically seen, it can
25      produce the ultimate tragedy of all.  We have got to

 1      use this example as an example of how all of who care
 2      about public service can try to work together to
 3      structure the government so it serves the people who
 4      are the government.
 5                          We must not forget the rural areas
 6      of this nation.  I've had the chance now to see a large
 7      part of this country.  There are a lot of vast open
 8      spaces with people who deserve representation just like
 9      everybody else.  And there is innovative programs under
10      way.  New Mexico's second judicial court has developed
11      a program that provides emergency restraining orders
12      for victims of domestic violence during off hours,
13      evenings, holidays and weekends in an effort to reach
14      undeserved victims.  A very rural region in North Idaho
15      is opening a fifteen-day shelter.  In the City of
16      Philadelphia, in an urban area, has formed a peer
17      counseling service.  We have got to reach out to
18      everyone who represents what this nation is all about.
19                          Finally, the Act has established a
20      national toll free hot line that provides a lifeline of
21      victims of domestic violence across the country.  The
22      number is 1-800-799-SICK or TDD 1-800-787-3224.  The
23      small bilingual hot line is run by the Department of
24      Health and Human Services.  It operates twenty-four
25      hours a day throughout the fifty states and the

 1      territories.  Since it began operating in February of
 2      1996, it has received over one hundred thousand calls
 3      from victims, family members, service providers and
 4      others in all fifty states.
 5                          Yes, we have come some distance in
 6      our efforts to hold the criminal justice system
 7      accountable for violence against women.  Tougher laws,
 8      however, will not by themselves put an end to domestic
 9      violence.  We must, as entire communities, work
10      together to respond to the problem in a far more
11      integrated and effective way.  If we are to create an
12      America in which girls will grow up without fear of
13      being abused by an intimate partner and boys will grow
14      into men who believe that violence is never acceptable,
15      then we must move beyond the traditional paragons of
16      fighting crime.  
17                          I see two areas that are
18      particularly crucial:  first, broad-based community
19      response systems; and secondly, innovative prevention
20      and early intervention strategies.
21                          One of the most enduring features
22      in the battered women's movement has been the
23      involvement of women's groups in bringing about change
24      in the legal system.  Shelter workers, victims'
25      advocates and survivors of domestic violence are

 1      marvelous advocates.  If you have ever seen a victim
 2      turn with all her grieve objectivity on the issue,
 3      there is no force that can stop them.  And I have
 4      watched them in action put pressure on law enforcement,
 5      prosecutors and courts to treat domestic violence as a
 6      crime, not merely as a private personal matter.  But in
 7      so doing, they have created effective partnerships with
 8      police officers, prosecutors and the courts in many
 9      communities throughout the country.  Today we can point
10      to numerous models of successful collaborations between
11      victim advocates and police and prosecutors and judges:
12      a police officer arrests a perpetrator of domestic
13      violence and then goes back and picks up the victim and
14      her children and takes them to the local shelter, or
15      prosecutors request the staff of the crisis counseling
16      program to help a victim come forward and have the
17      strength and endurance to tell her story to the court,
18      a family court judge can make sure that a victim
19      advocate is present to speak for a battered women who
20      cannot afford a lawyer.
21                          Yes, there are gaps in the system
22      still and there is much more to be done.  But the
23      crucial role of victims and victim service providers in
24      the criminal justice system as a response to domestic
25      violence is beyond question and we must build on what

 1      these courageous people do.
 2                          Collaboration works, but it does
 3      not yet go far enough if we are to reach the many women
 4      who continue to live in fear.  Women too scared to call
 5      the police, women who fear retaliation if they take
 6      their abuser to court, women who suffer in silence
 7      hoping that the man they love or used to love will
 8      somehow stop hurting them.  The simple truth is that
 9      not all battered women seek help from the legal system,
10      at least not at first.  They may not be ready to take
11      the legal action against their abuser, but they
12      desperately, desperately need help, help in assessing
13      resources and legal advice and formulating options and
14      relocation and finding the way to support their
15      children on their own.  Although they do not state that
16      they are victims of abuse, battered women often seek
17      assistance from government offices and community groups
18      that must become part of our collaborative effort to
19      end domestic violence.  
20                          We must widen the circle and build
21      broad-based community response systems that recognize
22      the problem and can reach out and make that victim
23      comfortable enough to come forward and start to
24      interrupt the cycle.
25                          We see the problem and how we need

 1      to reach beyond the criminal justice system.  The
 2      justice department's bureau of statistics, as I've
 3      pointed out, climbed seventeen percent of all persons
 4      treated for violence-related injuries in hospital
 5      emergency rooms were injured by an intimate partner. 
 6      It is clearly a public health issue.  We, therefore,
 7      must build links between the criminal justice system
 8      and health care professionals and recognize this is not
 9      just as a law enforcement problem, but as a public
10      health problem.  Health care workers can help battered
11      women learn about their options, how to get legal
12      services and find shelter and support.  Even for a
13      women who is not yet ready to press charges against her
14      batterer, a doctor who is sensitized to the domestic
15      violence program, to the problems of domestic violence,
16      can take simple steps like making detailed notes of the
17      injuries and statements, or keeping a camera handy so
18      that photographs of her injuries can be kept in medical
19      records.  These simple steps can make all the
20      difference in the future prosecution or in a petition
21      for a protection order.
22                          The past president of the American
23      Medical Association, Dr. Robert McAfee has also called
24      upon the medical community to show its commitment in
25      ending the cycle of violence.  Dr. McAfee has stated

 1      that during the past four years the American Medical
 2      Association has made the diagnosis of and prevention of
 3      family violence one of its top public health
 4      priorities.  He has referred to family violence as a
 5      major public health problem and asserts that the true
 6      success of our commitment will come when we as
 7      physicians treating patients one at a time make a
 8      difference by breaking that cycle of violence.  
 9                          Lawyers and doctors sometimes don't
10      get along very well together, but on this issue they
11      are united and we must reach out to those lawyers and
12      those doctors who have not heard the message to make
13      sure that we are united in our police force.
14                          Here in Georgia, the health care
15      community is taking action.  At the urging of the
16      Georgia Commission on Family Violence, medical
17      professionals, including facility of Emory's medical
18      school, has developed a statewide protocol for domestic
19      violence incidents and have recently begun to train
20      health care workers to identify abuse, assess their
21      safety and provide appropriate referrals.  
22                          Schools are also key players in a
23      wider community response to violence against women. 
24      Teachers, nurses and school counselors often learn
25      about domestic violence through the children who

 1      witness it or at times through their mother who reveals
 2      the abuse during a private meeting at school. 
 3      Students' schools can help battered women connect with
 4      community resources and seek protection.  
 5                          And we must involve other agencies
 6      in the community and community groups and other groups
 7      of victims of domestic violence such as welfare case
 8      workers, housing agencies, places that have head start
 9      programs and child support agencies, in our efforts to
10      identify and provide early assistance to victims of
11      domestic violence.
12                          And employers must also become
13      partners of the community-based efforts to fight
14      domestic violence.  Whether one harvests vegetables or
15      carries a briefcase to work, a women who is being
16      abused will suffer, suffer absenteeism, decreased
17      productivity and lower recourse for participation.  If
18      employers don't care about it just on the basis of
19      common humanity, they must care about it in terms of
20      their work force.  And all too often, that woman's
21      batterer will make it too difficult or too dangerous
22      for her to continue working.  Employers must work
23      together with advocates, law enforcement, employee
24      assistance professionals and other service providers to
25      ensure that battered women can work without fear of

 1      harassment and violence and without fear that their
 2      jobs can be in jeopardy if they do not hide the fact
 3      that they are abused. 
 4                          Already business leaders across the
 5      country are developing employee assistance programs
 6      that respond to the needs of battered women.  These
 7      model programs educate management and employees,
 8      provide information on where to seek help and train
 9      security guards in the manner of the safety needs of
10      battered women who are being stalked at work.  I
11      challenge those of you who are in that position as
12      employers to do all you can to increase safety in the
13      workplace for victims of domestic violence.  Employers
14      must also support their employees who suffer and need
15      time off from work to attend court hearings.
16                          But even if we work all this out,
17      even if we identify domestic violence early on, even if
18      we have court system personnel who are ready to do
19      something about it, what do we do when we get a
20      conviction?  What is the best way to intervene with the
21      batterer to make sure that it's never done again?  And
22      what is the cause of domestic violence and what are we
23      doing to eliminate the cause before we have to suffer
24      the tragedy of it?  
25                          This great university and other

 1      universities across this country can play -- And Emory
 2      has indeed played a critical role in our local and
 3      national efforts to end domestic violence.  We need
 4      good solid research.  And universities as leaders in
 5      research need to bring together experts across the
 6      disciplines to help us learn more about the causes and
 7      the consequences and what we can do to intervene. 
 8      Through research universities can also help evaluate
 9      the effectiveness of our current programs and policies.
10      You can tell us if it's working or not working.  Here
11      at Emory, in the Atlanta area, researchers are hard at
12      work with funding from the Centers for Disease Control
13      and Emory's research have documented the length between
14      suicide attempts and violence between intimate
15      partners.  Much more research is needed to help us
16      understand how to prevent violence from occurring, how
17      to intervene effectively with batterers and how to
18      assist women and children in their efforts to deal with
19      the consequences of domestic violence in their lives.
20                          And we need research in another
21      area.  Too often, as I sat there in my office in Miami
22      and tried to persuade a woman to go forward with the
23      prosecution, she would say "But he needs help.  He's an
24      alcoholic and I don't know what to do.  Well, he needs
25      help.  He's got a real drug problem."  Up till about

 1      ten years ago, there was no major medical school in
 2      this country that had course work in addictionology. 
 3      That's changed now.  But if this nation can send a man
 4      to the moon, this nation can do far more in unlocking
 5      the secrets of what causes people to abuse alcohol and
 6      to abuse drugs.  And when we start down that road to a
 7      solution, we will be finding a solution to a lot of
 8      other problems such as domestic violence.  
 9                          What is making America so violent
10      in its home?  Why are our young people so much more
11      violence in these last ten years?  That brass is
12      beginning to reduce itself.  I don't know the answer. 
13      But I do know that there are Americans who know how to
14      resolve conflicts without knives and guns and fists.  I
15      know that there are Americans, a number of Americans,
16      of teachers, of police officers, who know how to teach
17      children how to resolve conflicts without knives and
18      guns and fists.  I believe with all my heart that if we
19      establish better training through conflict resolution,
20      not just around the World in the magnificent way the
21      Carters have done it, but here on our streets and our
22      schools and our homes, teaching people how to
23      communicate, how to talk to each other, how to use a
24      tone of voice that is respectful, not demeaning in
25      which puts one down, how to problem solve together

 1      rather than butting heads in stubborn opposition.  
 2                          Again, if we can send a man to the
 3      moon, we can teach people far better than we have how
 4      to end violence in this country.  
 5                          Some people say that this is a very
 6      complex century to live in.  I've just been reading
 7      stories of women who moved West in covered wagons, and
 8      to think of how difficult it must have been to live and
 9      to brave the new world.  But this is a brave new world
10      in its own.  
11                          Technology threatens some minds to
12      master us.  We're going to have to master technology. 
13      Technology causes a job that we thought we would have
14      for thirty years to suddenly become obsolete.  And that
15      is creating pressures in the home and as the person
16      feels that they have no control, they lash out.  
17                          Let us develop mechanisms within
18      our community to help people solve their problems. 
19      Lawyers are supposed to be problem solvers.  But too
20      often the lawyers worry about their fees rather than
21      having their client's problem solved.  
22                          The legal profession, the medical
23      profession, all of us working together, have got to
24      develop capacities within our neighborhoods to get
25      people's problems solve in sensible ways.  We're going

 1      to save lives.  We're going to save sorrow.  We're
 2      going to save money if we do it up front.  
 3                          But most of all, we've got to focus
 4      on where violence comes from.  I was telling Ms. Carter
 5      earlier in the evening that I would pick up a      
 6      three-sentence investigation on a seventeen-year-old
 7      who I had prosecuted for an armed robbery.  I could see
 8      points along the way where I could have intervened in
 9      that child's life.  I tried to find the causation.  At
10      that point the crack had begin to hit Miami in 1985 and
11      doctors took it to the public hospitals to try to
12      figure out what to do about crack involved infants and
13      their mothers.  And they taught me, those marvelous
14      child development experts, that the first three years
15      of life were the most formative in a person's
16      existence.  That's the time you learn the concept of
17      reward and punishment.  That's the time you develop a
18      conscious.  Fifty percent of all learning through
19      response is learning your first year of life.  What
20      good is what we do fifteen and twenty and thirty years
21      from now if that child didn't have a start that gave
22      him a conscious and helped him understand the
23      difference between right and wrong and understand what
24      punishment meant.  This nation has for too long
25      forgotten and neglected its children.  We have stood by

 1      those children who were witnesses to domestic violence
 2      and other forms of violence and we have not provided
 3      counseling.  We have too often stood by as parents
 4      neglected their children and let them grow without
 5      proper supervision.  We have too long stood by as
 6      children have not had adequate medical care and have
 7      supported their education in the early years.  
 8                          If we are truly to address the
 9      problem of violence in America, we have got to turn our
10      attention back to our children.
11                          I shall recall words from the last
12      verse of the Old Testament from the book of Malachi,
13      "Behold, I will send you the prophet Elijah before
14      becoming the great and the dreadful day of the Lord. 
15      And he shall return the heart of the fathers to the
16      children and the children's hearts to their father,
17      lest I shall come down and smite the earth with a
18      curse."

 2                       C E R T I F I C A T E
 3      (State of Georgia
 4      County of Gwinnett)
 6                I, Mary Parham, being a Certified Court
 7      Reporter in and for the State of Georgia at large,
 8      certify that the foregoing transcript is a true record
 9      of the proceedings; that I am neither a relative nor
10      employee nor attorney nor counsel of any of the
11      parties, nor a relative nor employee of such attorney
12      or counsel nor financially interested is the action.
14                Witness my hand and seal at Lilburn, Gwinnett
15      County, Georgia, this the 24th of October 1997.
19                       MARY PARHAM, CCR, CVR
21                       CERTIFICATE NO. B-1727
23                             (CCR SEAL)