Department of Justice Seal

Attorney General Prepared Remarks

Memphis Area Legal Services Grant
August15, 2001

Good morning! I'm pleased to be here in Memphis and to learn about the work you're doing to assist victims of domestic violence. Through your Domestic Violence Project, you've touched the lives of almost 1,500 women and their children.

You've provided quality legal assistance for women with no place else to turn. You've helped save lives by helping women obtain protection orders from abusive partners.

You've helped abused women break out of violent relationships, secure financial assistance, jobs, child care, housing, and other support that enable them to live free of the horrors of domestic violence.

I thank all of you for the services you're providing to abused women and their children through this partnership among Memphis Area Legal Services, the YWCA Abused Women's Services, and the University of Memphis School of Law.

From the students who staff the law school clinic, to the staff attorneys, to the pro bono lawyers who give up their time and fees to serve victims, I want you to know how much we at the Department of Justice appreciate your hard work and dedication to serving the innocent victims of crime.

I understand that, prior to the creation of the Domestic Violence Project, financial provisions for domestic violence were not included in any protection order issues in Shelby County.

As a result of your perseverance and plain hard work, you were successful in obtaining financial support for three clients last year and two more this year.

While these may seem like small steps to some, to the women involved in these cases, your work has made a huge difference in their lives and the lives of their children.

I'm pleased that the Justice Department - through our Office of Justice Programs' Violence Against Women Office - has been able to provide some of the financial support that makes your services possible.

Today, I'm very happy to announce that we're awarding Memphis Area Legal Services a grant of over $314,000 to continue your good work.

Combined with a previous grant awarded in 1999, this brings our support to over $600,000 over the past three years.

These grants are awarded under our Legal Assistance for Victims Grant Program, which was created by the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.

Through this program, we're supporting programs across the country that provide legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It's a part of the Justice Department's overall effort to address violence against women.

Since the first Violence Against Women legislation was enacted in 1994, we've awarded millions of dollars to help law enforcement agencies implement arrest policies for batterers, help women and children in rural areas, prevent violence against women on college campuses, and provide civil legal assistance to women crime victims.

Overall, we've awarded grants totaling more than a billion dollars to improve our nation's response to violence against women.

Since becoming Attorney General earlier this year, I've made addressing violence against women a priority for the Department.

I'm committed to building on our legislative legacy and the accomplishments of the thousands of victims advocates throughout our nation who have brought the problem of domestic violence out into the open and who have made tremendous progress in ensuring justice for women and in holding offenders more accountable.

As a result of your work and with the help of federal funding:

- Every state now has laws requiring police, prosecutors, and judges to treat domestic violence as a crime, rather than a quote "family problem" unquote.

- It's easier now for victims to obtain civil protection orders to prevent future abuse.

- There are many more shelters and other services across the nation to assist battered women and children.

- And in many communities, law enforcement, prosecutors, the courts, victim advocates, and service providers are working together to build comprehensive efforts to protect domestic violence victims, while - at the same time - holding batterers accountable for their abusive behavior.

I thank you, again, for the part you've played in this progress and for all you are doing to ensure safety and justice for abused women and their children.

I hope the grant funds I've announced today will further this progress. Thank you very much.

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