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For Immediate Release: December 16, 2014

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $6.2 MILLION FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAMS

Funding from the Federal Violence Against Women Act will support victim services, law enforcement and court programs

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State has received $6.2 million in federal funds that will allow 90 community organizations, hospitals, police departments and district attorneys’ offices to enhance services and protections for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The grants will also support the work of health care professionals who are specially trained in examining sexual assault victims and collecting evidence that can be used by law enforcement, as well as allowing the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault to develop protocols and training that better address sexual assaults on college campuses.

"This funding will provide much-needed resources to assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in every corner of New York State," Governor Cuomo said. "These organizations are proven programs that are helping to create a better system of support and justice for victims, and I am pleased that their good work is being recognized by our federal partners."

The funds will support programs that assist victims and the work of law enforcement professionals, including:

  • Advocacy, counseling and legal services;
  • Salaries of sexual assault examiners, who are nurses or other medical professionals specially trained to perform forensic exams;
  • Salaries of police investigators, prosecutors and probation officers that specifically handle domestic violence and sexual assault cases; and
  • Training programs for law enforcement, judges and service providers.

The grants are funded through the federal Violence Against Women Act and administered by the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The grants process was open and competitive for the first time in more than a decade, which resulted in grants being awarded to 14 organizations and agencies that had not been funded in the past. As a result, services for sexual assault and domestic violence victims will be expanded in the following counties: Albany, Allegany, Chautauqua, Fulton, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rensselaer, Rockland, Schenectady, St. Lawrence and Suffolk counties, as well as New York City.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services was required to follow a long-standing federal allocation formula when awarding the grants. The agency also needed to meet several new federal requirements, including funding efforts to eliminate sexual assault in correctional facilities, reducing domestic violence-related homicides, and ensuring that funds were equitably distributed among urban, suburban and rural communities across the state.

In addition, previously funded entities had no guarantee that they would receive funding this year. The Division of Criminal Justice Services received approximately $10.3 million in requests, exceeding the available funding by more than $4 million.

Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, “During my 25 years as a prosecutor, I saw the devastating impact that domestic violence and sexual assault had on its victims and their families, particularly children, who too often witnessed crimes committed by one parent against another. These grant awards will allow local criminal justice professionals, victim advocates and attorneys to handle cases more effectively, holding offenders accountable and also providing victims the services and support they need to recover and rebuild their lives.”

A complete list of the organizations and agencies that will share the nearly $6.2 million can be found here.

The 90 organizations and agencies will execute three-year contracts with the option for one, two-year extension. The approximately $6.2 million announced today will fund the first year of those contracts; it is expected that approximately the same amount of funding will be available annually for the duration of those contracts. The funding cycle for the grants aligns with the calendar year.

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault and New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence each will receive two grants totaling $231,000.

The Coalition Against Sexual Assault will use its funding to initiate a statewide project to implement best practices to address campus sexual assault by improving the response to these crimes through enhanced coordination among campus personnel, rape crisis centers, local law enforcement and prosecutors, while the Coalition Against Domestic Violence coalition will work to reduce domestic violence homicides across New York through statewide training and technical assistance for service providers. Both organizations also will fund statewide prevention and awareness initiatives and training for advocates who work with domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

Joanne Zannoni, Executive Director, New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said, “The VAWA grant funds will allow the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault to continue its work with sexual assault examiners, representatives from traditionally underserved populations, rape crisis programs, other victim service providers and allies to promote effective, compassionate responses for sexual assault victims and survivors. We are thrilled that this funding will support sexual assault prevention efforts, as well as a new initiative to address campus sexual assault on a statewide basis, by facilitating multidisciplinary collaboration, improving coordination between on-campus and off-campus responders and developing and implementing best practices for responding to campus sexual assault.”

Connie Neal, Executive Director, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said, “The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a statewide organization comprised of local service providers, allies and individuals who are committed to ending domestic violence. These funds will allow the coalition to provide training and support to local domestic violence programs, which serve thousands of survivors annually, partner with those programs to reduce intimate partner homicides and launch a groundbreaking statewide prevention initiative designed to stop domestic violence from occurring in the first place.”

Congressman Charles B. Rangel said, "For two decades, the Violence Against Women Act has helped improve and save lives – not just for women, but also for their families. As a proud cosponsor of the landmark legislation and the 2013 bill to reauthorize VAWA I applaud Governor Cuomo's commitment to ensure that all victims receive adequate services and support they need. Indeed we need leadership at the highest level to strengthen the responses of law enforcement and community organizations that could help prevent violence in the first place-- because even one victim is too many."

Rep. Louise Slaughter, an original author of VAWA said, “Survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault have endured the unimaginable. When Pat Schroeder and I wrote VAWA, we knew that in addition to physical, emotional, and psychological trauma that survivors experience, they are almost always faced with housing needs, legal matters and financial issues. The programs established through VAWA help survivors of domestic violence rebuild their lives with assistance in all these areas. Since 1994, incidents of domestic violence have decreased by 67 percent. I am proud to support VAWA and the excellent organizations here in Rochester that benefit from the grant programs it established.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said, "Victims of sexual assault and domestic violence often carry physical and psychological scars that take time to heal, but justice is on their side. I am pleased that these federal funds will be used to offer victims the support they need while empowering more prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable. Victims need not suffer in silence."

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said, “Domestic violence has no place in our communities and we must work together to let victims know there is assistance available for them. These federal dollars to Westchester and Rockland organizations will help combat domestic violence. As the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped to increase funding for VAWA grants and I will continue to protect initiatives that assist victims.”

Congressman José E. Serrano said, “Unfortunately, victims of domestic or sexual violence oftentimes don’t know where or how to reach out for the help they need to escape their circumstances, defend themselves, and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. Sometimes, they don’t even have access to the right resources in their communities. This much needed federal funding will help improve and expand the health care, counseling, and legal services available for victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault in New York City. I applaud Governor Cuomo for helping victims escape the cycle of violence, seek justice, and get their life back on track after being victims of domestic and/or sexual abuse."

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, “As a longtime supporter of the federal Violence Against Women Act, I am pleased to see the funding we fought for in Congress being put to good use in New York City and across the state. Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking affect at least one in four women and can destroy lives. Life-saving programs, like those funded with these grants, have helped many victims move from crisis to stability while ensuring their attackers are brought to justice. I am especially pleased that we were able to defeat House Republican efforts to deny VAWA funding for the LGBT community, and that now funding will be used to help LGBT victims of violence as well as the countless others served by VAWA. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for ensuring this funding was put to good use in communities across the entire state of New York.”

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney said, "I fought to pass the Violence Against Women Act to put a stop to the heartbreaking and pervasive crimes against women that have come all too common in American society. The federal funds provided by this essential law are going directly to help the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The funds will also be used to prosecute the perpetrators of these terrible crimes. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his continued leadership on this issue, and will continue fighting to secure additional federal funding to stop violence against women."

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks said, "I welcome Governor Cuomo's announcement of $6.2 million of funding for hospitals, district attorney's offices, police departments, and community organizations to better serve victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The office of Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown is one of the recipients which means our DA’s office will no be able to assign two domestic violence attorneys to help ensure that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the district receive the proper counseling and care to begin the healing process. In Congress, I was proud to support the Violence Against Women Act that provides the funding for these programs and I thank the Governor for his continued dedication to these important initiatives that make for a stronger and more resilient New York."

Rep. Joe Crowley said, “Today’s announcement is a vitally important part of our ongoing commitment to breaking the cycle of violence against women. These grants provide critical resources to dozens of organizations and agencies across New York that not only help countless women who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but also empower them to speak out. I thank Governor Cuomo and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services for administering these funds and ensuring that our mothers, sisters and daughters are getting the support and protections they deserve.”

Congressman Steve Israel said, “The prevalence of sexual assault and domestic violence in our society is simply unacceptable. I’m pleased that this federal funding will help survivors in New York when they need it most, and I encourage all levels of government to continue working together to do everything in our power to assist survivors of these terrible crimes.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse should never feel uncertain about where to find essential services. This funding will bolster programs at community organizations, hospitals and law enforcement agencies which provide the necessary shelter, counseling, and treatment these situations call for.”

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said, “I want to commend Governor Cuomo on his commitment to supporting the victims of domestic violence by dedicating resources to the prosecution of individuals who commit acts of domestic violence, providing services to victims, and educating the people of New York State about the problem of domestic violence. I am committed to working with New York State and New York City officials to eliminate forever the threat of domestic violence within our families.”

Congressman Paul Tonko said, "Enhancing services for survivors of violence is paramount to strengthening families and communities across the Capital Region and statewide. I thank Governor Cuomo for identifying and acting upon these needs and look forward to seeing more progress like this in the future."

Rep. Bill Owens said, "Sexual assault and domestic violence have no place in North Country homes or communities. This funding helps equip local law enforcement and victim services organizations with the tools necessary to identify these crimes when they happen and hold the perpetrators responsible. I applaud the state and federal governments for funding this important work."

Congressman Tom Reed said, “The statistics on sexual assault in our country are troubling; it’s an issue we all must care about. I applaud the difficult work these programs and agencies across the 23rd District and all of New York State do to support and advocate for victims. Together we can reverse the trends by raising awareness of sexual assault.”

Congressman Chris Gibson said, “As a strong supporter of the federal Violence Against Women Act, I recognize the critical services that this federal funding stream supports in our region. I thank the Governor for prioritizing this assistance to local organizations that provide direct care to the victims of abuse. Additionally, I am happy to see that local LGBT groups will receive additional support made available through the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization."

Rep. Michael G. Grimm said, “Thanks to this partnership between Governor Cuomo and New York’s congressional leaders, our state is making enormous strides in the nationwide effort to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. That is why I was proud to support the Violence Against Women Act, which delivers millions in federal grants to help the hardworking professionals at Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) and the Staten Island District Attorney's Office provide the highest quality treatment and counseling for the innocent victims of domestic violence, especially young women and mothers.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna said, “No community is immune to domestic violence, but we can help ensure that no person in Upstate New York is neglected. I am a strong supporter of the Violence Against Women Act and worked to ensure its passage in the House of Representatives. This funding will importantly assist victims, organizations that are on the front line to help, law enforcement agencies who are often the first responders and also prosecutors who ensure attackers face consequences. I have absolute confidence that this funding will aid victims at very critical times.”

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney said, "Our work is not over until we ensure no mother, daughter, friend or neighbor will ever suffer in silence. Working across the aisle, Congress passed the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, and partnering with Governor Cuomo, we can continue to make critical investments to combat domestic violence in our communities.”

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng said, “These critical funds will go a long way to ensure that victims of sexual assault and domestic violence receive the assistance they require. Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes that continue to affect way too many women and families, and we must do all we can to help combat these heinous acts.”

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA Databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; administration of federal and state criminal justice grant funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

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