President Clinton announces New Mexico Domestic Violence Grants and urges Congress to pass Violence Against Women Legislation (9/25/00)
Today, President Clinton will call on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and will announce the final Department of Justice (DOJ) Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants for New Mexico at the Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe. This funding of $1.7 million is part of this fiscal year's $173 million in Justice VAWA grants, bringing nationwide VAWA funding to a total of over $1.6 billion. These grants help to make our streets, schools, and homes safe for all women and children. The grants announced today will: strengthen tribal law enforcement and prosecution efforts to combat violence against Native women; help develop coordinated responses to domestic violence and child abuse in rural areas; encourage state, local, and tribal governments to treat domestic violence as a serious violation of criminal law; and strengthen civil legal assistance programs. The President will urge Congress to act expeditiously to reauthorize VAWA, set to expire on September 30, so that the nearly 900,000 women who experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner every year will have a fighting chance to live lives free from violence.
VAWA'S SUCCESS IN COMBATING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. Over the last seven years, the Clinton Administration has led an historic effort to reduce crime in our nation's communities and, in particular, to recognize and respond to the problem of violence against women. In 1994, with the President's strong support, Congress passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act, as part of the Administration's crime bill, which established new Federal criminal provisions and key grant programs to improve the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, and to direct critical services to victims. VAWA programs are making a difference across the country. A recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that domestic violence has declined since 1993. The number of women experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner declined 21 percent from 1993 to 1998, and in 1996, 1997, and 1998, intimate partners committed fewer murders than in any year since 1976. DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have awarded over $1.6 billion in Federal grants to support the work of prosecutors, law enforcement officials, the courts, victim advocates, health care and social service professionals, and intervention and prevention programs. In addition, the Act established the Domestic Violence Hotline, which has received over 500,000 calls.
VAWA MUST BE REAUTHORIZED. Although tremendous strides have been made, domestic violence still devastates the lives of many women and children. Nearly one-third of women murdered each year are killed by their intimate partners and violence by intimates accounts for over 20 percent of all violent crimes against women. If Congress fails to reauthorize VAWA, many critical programs may be jeopardized. Reauthorization legislation, which has broad bipartisan support, will help to: maintain existing programs; expand the investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against women; provide greater numbers of victims with assistance; maintain and expand the domestic violence hotline, shelter, rape prevention and education programs; and support effective partnerships between law enforcement, victim advocates and communities.
VAWA GRANTS IN NEW MEXICO. Today, the President will announce approximately $1.7 million in VAWA funding for New Mexico that will be used to combat domestic violence. Here is how some of the grantees -- a legal services center, tribes, and a battered women's shelter -- will use this funding:
- El Refugio, Inc., a legal services center, which partners with a local domestic violence program, will provide training for law enforcement and judicial staff on domestic violence issues and legal representation to victims of domestic violence in restraining order and divorce cases. Previous civil legal assistance funding has enabled the center to provide legal representation and advocacy for victims of domestic violence who desperately need legal assistance.
- The Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, Inc., provides services to the Pueblos of Tesuque, Pojoaque, Santa Clara, San Ildelfonso, Picuris, Nambe, San Juan, and Taos. VAWA funds have enabled the Council to support legal services for victims, train tribal law enforcement, and provide direct victim services to the eight northern Pueblo communities. The Council will use this new grant to maintain and improve collaboration among social services, tribal police departments, tribal prosecutors, tribal courts, and the PeaceKeepers Domestic Violence Program.
- Morning Star House is a community-based advocacy program for women and children in Albuquerque. VAWA funding previously supported community outreach, interagency collaboration, services for women and children, and legal advocacy. Continuation funding will identify a network of safe houses for Indian women and children and develop a plan for a permanent shelter that is culturally appropriate for Indian women and children.
- With this new grant, Taos Pueblo will continue to work collaboratively with the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, the New Mexico/Colorado Tribal Judges Association and the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals to implement its Family Protection Code. The Tribal Court and victim advocate have used previous funding to coordinate training for court staff and to encourage the implementation of mandatory arrest policies in the tribal police department.