WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced a total of $2,169,679 in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that will improve West Virginia’s ability to combat crime, specifically sexual assault.
The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services (FRIS) will receive $998,879 from the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women. The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services will receive $1,170,800 from the DOJ Office of Justice Programs to support the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program.
“Sexual assault and violence against women must be taken very seriously. These grants will help provide critical services to victims of violence and sexual assault, especially those in rural areas of West Virginia who face unique obstacles in their efforts to escape dangerous relationships,” said Senator Capito. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I fought hard to help fund these programs under the Violence Against Women Act and am confident they will help improve services for victims and prevent future incidents.”
“Any act of violence is one too many, and fighting on behalf of the victims who are suffering is of the highest priority to the people of West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said. “Violence Against Women programs make a tremendous difference in our state and across our nation. They save lives and strengthen communities. They offer protection and create channels of hope. As a staunch supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, I am pleased that these grants will continue to fund innovative, successful programs that provide protection to victims of violence, especially those in remote and geographically isolated areas who face barriers to accessing services.”
The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information Services (FRIS) will receive $998,879 from The DOJ Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). This grant will fund the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Assistance Program. Specifically, the Rural Program grant will support programs that:
· Assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking by encouraging collaboration among various agencies and service providers.
· Establish and expand necessary services in rural communities to victims of various forms of violence.
· Increase safety measures for women and children living in rural communities by addressing each case of violence directly and immediately and establishing solutions and strategies to assure future cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking do not occur.
FRIS will provide services for Fayette, Jackson, Marion, Mason, Morgan, Preston, Upshur and Barbour Counties. The services will help provide accessible services to all victims and will raise awareness throughout the community to prevent future cases. Approximately 450 victims of sexual assault will have access to services annually through 7 sexual assault victim advocates who will receive ongoing training to better serve each victim.
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services (DJCS) will receive $1,170,800 from the DOJ Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to support the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) program. SAKI provides funding to support community response teams that specialize in sexual assault cases that have not been reported to a crime laboratory. The West Virginia DJCS will use the SAKI award to direct attention to the increasing amount of unsubmitted kits in West Virginia. Teams will address the issue in both rural and urban communities by conducting an inventory through an electronic data exchange and developing policies aimed at improving services for victims and decreasing the severity of this state-wide issue.