Attorney General Prepared Remarks
Violence Against Women Grant [NOTE: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OFTEN DEVIATES FROM PREPARED REMARKS] Columbus, Ohio August 17, 2001
Good morning! I'm pleased to be here in Columbus and to learn about the work you're doing to assist women victims of violence.
Through your work, you've touched the lives of thousands of women and their children. Women like the 20-year-old domestic violence victim with a 3-year-old daughter. She had filed numerous charges against her abusive husband in the past. But she'd dropped the charges when her husband retaliated by calling Children's Services and reporting her as a bad mother.
He also called the Department of Human Services and accused her of welfare fraud. Although she was soon cleared in both cases, she remained fearful of charging him, even though his physical and emotional abuse heightened.
Finally, with the help of the Legal Aid Society here in Columbus, she filed criminal charges, and also filed for divorce. The criminal court ordered him to counseling. And by the time of the final divorce hearing, he was visiting regularly and paying child support. The final divorce decree was settled amicably, and the woman experienced no further problems.
Or take the case of a disabled client who was about to get evicted from public housing because her son, who had been staying with her, damaged the apartment. He would hit her when she refused to give him money and steal her possessions to get money to buy drugs. He was in jail, but was threatening to kill her when he got out.
The Legal Aid Society worked with the landlord to relocate her. Then they helped her obtain a civil protection order before her son was released from jail so he would be court-ordered to stay away from her.
These are just two of the success stories here in Columbus. And there are many others throughout Ohio.
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 increased arrests of abusers - by as much as 700 percent in one Ohio county.
And 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 the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and the many other programs that receive Department of Justice funding across the State of Ohio.
I'm pleased to announce that today the Department of Justice is awarding two new grants to continue Ohio's progress in addressing violence against women.
Under our STOP Formula Grants Program, we're awarding $3.8 million to Ohio to prevent and respond to violence against women. These funds will support partnerships among law enforcement, prosecution, the courts, and victim advocates to ensure victim safety and accountability for offenders.
We're also awarding over $344,000 to enable the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to continue providing legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
No American should feel outside the protection of the law, or beyond the reach of the law. These programs support communities that champion victims' rights and develops coordinated responses to violence against women.
The funds I've announced today will give law enforcement and victim services the resources they need to do a better job of investigating, prosecuting, preventing, and responding to crimes against women.
And the Department of Justice is committed to continuing to provide our communities with the resources to hold offenders accountable and to meet the needs of victims.
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.
I thank you, again, for all you are doing to ensure safety and justice for the innocent victims of crime and their families.
I hope the grant funds I've announced today will further your progress in addressing violence against women. Thank you very much.