The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will direct more than $33 million in grant funding to California to support efforts to curb domestic violence throughout the state, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California David L. Anderson, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California McGregor W. Scott, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nicola T. Hanna, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert S. Brewer Jr.
As the state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, reports indicate that many cities are experiencing surges in domestic violence. The OVW grants will provide resources to local prosecutors, victim service providers, healthcare professionals, training organizations, and academic researchers, including several with national scope. Even with limited prosecutorial authority in domestic violence cases, the federal government remains committed to working with all of its partners to end the scourge of domestic violence.
Disturbing research shows that intimate partner homicides are common. According to the CDC, roughly 1 in 6 homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. In 2019, California law enforcement received 161,123 domestic violence-related calls for assistance, and 47% of those calls involved a weapon. Research shows that abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners than abusers who don’t have access to a firearm.
Given these troubling statistics, in June 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr formed a Domestic Violence Working Group to encourage prosecution of armed domestic violence offenders. Federal law bars domestic violence offenders – those subject to certain protective orders or convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors or felonies – from possessing firearms. Districts across the nation, including all four districts in California, have prioritized their own initiatives designed to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
“We are proud to stand with the Office on Violence Against Women in announcing these grants to deter domestic violence throughout the state,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “These tens of millions of dollars in grants will result in a better trained and more effective law enforcement community and will strengthen the coordination between the federal government and our state and local partners when confronted with domestic violence issues.”
“Putting an end to domestic violence requires effort from everyone in a community and OVW is proud to support the work being done in California,” said OVW Principal Deputy Director Laura L. Rogers. “Our funding supports law enforcement, prosecutors and brings people together to work for a common cause. These strong partnerships lead to creative solutions to prevent violence.”
“We remain committed to reducing domestic violence through enforcement and prevention, working together with our local law enforcement partners and service providers,” said U.S. Attorney Scott. “We must do everything we can to combat the rise in domestic violence during COVID, and these grants will be of great assistance.”
“Domestic violence crimes, especially those involving firearms, are a horrific victimization of some of the most vulnerable among us,” said U.S. Attorney Hanna. “These grants will provide substantial assistance to an array of entities, including those that provide immediate assistance to victims and others that are seeking long-term solutions. We value our ongoing partnerships with these community organizations and look forward to assisting, where we can, by filing federal domestic violence cases.”
Among the $33 million in awards that will be issued to organizations and government agencies in California are:
• $400,000 to promote enhanced training and services to end violence and abuse of elderly women in Contra Costa County;
• $14.77 million to the state to support law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services providers, and courts to respond to domestic and sexual violence, including 0ver $1 million to improve criminal justice responses in Marin and Alameda counties;
• $4.2 million to domestic violence organizations to provide legal service to victims, including $600,000 to the Los Angeles-based Peace Over Violence to provide no-cost legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, including those with disabilities;
• $4.13 million for improving criminal justice responses grant program also known as the Arrest Program, including $999,700 to Sacramento County and $1 million to Tulare County;
• $1.5 million to advocacy groups to help culturally and linguistically specific services programs, including $300,000 to the Sacramento-based My Sister’s House;
• $2.1 million to domestic violence shelters to provide transitional housing and therapy services, including $450,000 to Crisis Intervention Services dba Tahoe SAFE Alliance; and
• $91,000 to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and $552,000 to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, two statewide organizations working to address violence against women.
New projects to provide training and technical assistance throughout the country include:
• The $5 million National Violence Against Women Law Enforcement Training and Technical Assistance Consortium, a project with the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, in Florida, that will deliver training on investigating and responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
• $675,000 to continue the work of the San Diego-based Alliance for HOPE’s Training Institute for Strangulation Prevention, which provides education on investigating and prosecuting nonfatal strangulation in domestic violence cases; and
• $400,000 to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, headquartered in Maryland, to develop a national protocol to guide medical-forensic care for domestic violence victims who seek treatment for their injuries.