REGION – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has announced that Vermont organizations will receive 10 grants totaling more than $7.4 million from the U.S. Department of Justice to support crime victims and to strengthen services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
As a former prosecutor and as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy has long led efforts to protect funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), the two federal programs that provide direct support to victims. Leahy also led the Senate in strengthening and reauthorizing VAWA in 2013 as the chief author and sponsor of that legislation, and in 2015 he helped raise the cap on the Crime Victims Fund so that states would be eligible for more funding.
“It is vitally important to continue to support those who are supporting victims. We have a highly effective network of organizations that serve thousands of Vermont residents every year, and we must ensure they have the tools they need to do their work,” Leahy said. “We know that half of all homicides in Vermont are related to domestic violence. This disturbing reality tears at the fabric of all our communities, from our urban centers to our most rural towns. That is why one of my highest priorities in renewing VAWA was to strengthen support for victims, especially in rural communities with access to few resources.”
Karen Tronsgard-Scott, executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said, “Survivors of domestic and sexual violence need the support of our communities. These grants create innovative approaches to providing these vitally important supports and will help survivors reconstruct their lives free from violence. We are grateful for Senator Leahy’s deep understanding of domestic and sexual violence and how it impacts survivors and communities in Vermont, and his stalwart support for these programs.”
Chris Fenno, executive director of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, said, “The criminal justice system can be overwhelming for a person who has experienced a robbery, an assault, rape or murder. These grants provide crucial victim services to over 25,000 individuals each year across the state of Vermont, and help make the experience less daunting on many levels. We appreciate Senator Leahy’s lifelong dedication to improving the justice system’s response for people whose lives have been impacted by crime.”
This additional funding comes on the heels of the Senate Appropriations Committee passing a Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill this summer that included $483.5 million for the Violence Against Women Act, a $2 million increase over FY17 levels. That bill included a $1 million increase for a Leahy-authored rural grants program that delivers funds specifically to rural states like Vermont. The appropriations bill also included an additional $1 million in Leahy-authored transitional housing grants, a program that awarded Burlington $349,454 in this round of grants.
FY 2017 U.S. Department of Justice Grants to Vermont:
- Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont, Inc., Springfield: $395,029 – This funding will enhance the training of police, prosecutors, and the judiciary to investigate and prosecute cases of abuse, mistreatment, violence, and assault of elderly victims.
- WISE, Windsor County: $490,382 – This funding will increase capacity to more effectively serve residents of Windsor County, with an emphasis on the rural towns of Windsor, West Windsor, Weathersfield and Reading, focusing on victim services and coordinated response.