The Department of Justice has awarded a $750,000 grant to Pierce County to bolster domestic violence arrests and enforce restraining orders stemming from domestic abuse, according to a press conference held this morning by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).
One in four American women will be victims of domestic violence sometime in her lifetime, Cantwell said. That is unacceptable, and through efforts like these in Tacoma, we will make that statistic shrink. These funds will help prevent victims of domestic violence from falling through the cracks and help law enforcement keep abusers away from survivors and their families.
The money was awarded to Pierce County through the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program, a provision of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These grants support arresting domestic violence offenders as one part of a comprehensive strategy to respond and prevent domestic violence, and fully enforcing restraining orders that protect families from further violence.
Originally passed in 1994, VAWA stiffens penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders, provides resources for battered women to get services they need, and funds local law enforcement training programs. Funding for these important programs may soon dry up, though. Unless Congress passes legislation co-sponsored by Cantwell to renew VAWA, the programs will expire at the end of the year. The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 was introduced on June 8th.
Cantwell made the announcement in front of the Pierce County Jail with Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, Prosecuting Attorney Gerry Horne, and advocates for domestic violence survivors.
Over 51,000 domestic violence-related arrests were made in Washington state in 2003. While over 25,000 Washington state adults and children were served by programs funded by VAWA in 2001, almost 33,000 other victims were turned away because there were not enough resources to help them.