November 16, 2009

Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Engel Fight To Save Spring Valley Domestic Violence Justice Court Grant

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Eliot Engel have joined together to urge the Office on Violence Against Women (OVAW) to renew the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) grant to help fund the highly-successful Spring Valley Domestic Violence Justice Court.

An initial review was performed at a time when there was still a substantial amount of funding in the program's account and it was incorrectly assumed that the Domestic Violence Justice Court did not need the level of funding it had been receiving.  However, at closer inspection, almost four-fifths of that balance was already allotted making the criticism an incorrect assessment of the program.

"It is critical that we ensure victims of domestic violence have a safe place to go and receive the support they need," Senator Gillibrand said. "The Spring Valley Domestic Violence Justice Court relies on federal funding to crack down on dangerous criminals hurting women and families as well as keeping more families and individuals in safe homes, protecting them from dangerous, abusive environments, and providing care for their children.  I will continue working with Congressman Engel to ensure the Spring Valley Domestic Violence Justice Court maintains its funding to keep our families safe."

"Hundreds of Rockland families per year are helped in dealing with the emotional and physical consequences of domestic violence.  Needless to say, the lives saved or enhanced has been immeasurable, and with the trend towards increased domestic violence occurrences in times of economic stress, the need to keep a fully-funded Domestic Violence Justice Court may never be greater," said Rep. Engel.  "Working with Senator Gillibrand, I will continue fighting to keep the flow of funds going to the court for as long as the deem it necessary."

"We are fortunate that the U.S. Department of Justice has committed itself to fighting domestic violence at all levels.  As Justice-elect, I appreciate the long-term investment that DOJ has made to local courts and the various initiatives that support the public. Domestic violence is a serious problem that threatens the well-being, safety, and liberty of every community.  I appreciate the advocacy work that Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Engel have done on our behalf.  Working together, we can continue to provide much needed support to our community," said Spring Valley Justice-Elect David Fried.

During the last two funding cycles of the grant program (the Grant to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders), the agencies involved have been able to maintain a domestic violence hotline, support groups, an emergency shelter, children's services, and community commitment services to end domestic violence.   The Domestic Violence Justice Court has been helping victims cope with and recover from domestic violence since 1995.   Along with partnering agencies, they annually serve 550 domestic violence victims.

Rep. Engel added, "I applaud the work done by the Spring Valley Domestic Violence Justice Court in helping people in great need.  I will continue to fight with my Senate colleague to keep this program alive by not only reinstating this grant but in searching for other funding streams to keep the doors open now and for years to come."