FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Meredith Kelly
February 6, 2013 202.224.7433
SCHUMER REVEALS: RECENT POLICE DATA SHOWS AN ASTOUNDING 43,000 INCIDENTS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE IN UPSTATE NEW YORK IN 2011 – SENATOR CALLS FOR PASSAGE OF TOUGH LEGISLATION ON FLOOR THIS WEEK TO COMBAT ALARMING TREND IN NY
Violence Against Women Act To Help Combat Domestic Violence Has Expired & Is Up For Senate Vote This Week – Schumer Calls On Colleagues To Give Law Enforcement & Victims Tools to Fight Back
Schumer Pushes For Tough New Bill That Will Improve Law Enforcement Training, Crackdown On Internet Stalking, and Place Special Focus On Stopping Sexual Violence In Rural Communities
New County-By-County Report Shows 8,000 Cases in Hudson Valley, 8,597 Cases In Western New York, 7,971 Cases in Rochester-Finger Lakes Region
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on his colleagues to pass the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that would give law enforcement the necessary tools to fight back against rampant domestic violence throughout Upstate New York. Schumer’s call comes amidst new figures from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services that show about 43,782 domestic abuse incidents in which law enforcement was called to the scene in 2011 in Upstate New York. VAWA, which is expected to come for a vote in the Senate on Thursday, would reauthorize a number of federal programs which encourage collaboration among law enforcement, judicial personnel, and public and private service providers to victims of domestic and sexual violence. On the call, Schumer highlighted key provisions of this law, including grants to help train cops in stopping domestic and dating violence, and provisions to toughen federal anti-stalking laws to include digital harassment through the internet and social media. Schumer will also highlight that the legislation would send specialized resources to law enforcement, education and sexual assault response teams in rural, underserved areas of New York. Schumer noted that the vital law has decreased domestic violence by 50% since its creation in 1994, but expired for the first time in 2011.
“There is nothing more important than protecting our women, children and other victims of domestic violence, and I’m calling on my Senate colleagues to pass this life-saving legislation without further delay,” said Schumer. “For years, the Violence Against Women Act has helped send life-saving dollars to Upstate New York communities to develop specialized law enforcement units, train professionals in handling domestic violence and sexual assault, improve prosecutions of these crimes, and provide services to victims. With a 50 percent reduction in domestic violence since this sweeping safety law was first put in place, we can ill-afford to lose these resources, and this bill simply must pass the Senate and then the House of Representatives as soon as possible.”
On the call, Schumer provided most recent annual county-by-county data on the number of reported domestic violence cases, according to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services. The original 1994 VAWA bill, which was authored by Schumer when he was a member of the House, has been reauthorized twice – in 2000 and 2005 – with unanimous Senate approval. Since its enactment, the bill has reduced domestic violence by more than 50 percent. However this life-saving, bipartisan bill expired in 2011. Many of the programs have continued to receive funding over the last year thanks to continuing resolutions passed by the House and Senate. In the 112th Congress, the Senate bill had 61 cosponsors, including 8 Republicans. It passed out of the Senate in April 2012 with an impressive 68-31 votes, but was never taken up in the House.
Since 2006, law enforcement agencies across the state have received over $145 million in federal funds through programs included in the Violence Against Women’s Act. The legislation on the Senate floor this week would renew several successful programs and provides funding for training, education and outreach to help state and federal agencies do a better job of preventing violence against women and assisting victims of domestic violence. The legislation also includes new programs designed to specifically combat internet stalking and other uses of social media that can lead to domestic violence. The bill would extend these grant programs and critical protections for an additional 5 years.
In the most recent annual data set, there were over 43,000 cases in Upstate New York in which local, county, or state police officers were called to the scene of a domestic violence complaint, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Here is how the incidents break down across the state:
· In the Capital Region, there were 6,622 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In Western New York, there were 8,597 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, there were 7,971 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In the Southern Tier, there were 2,750 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In Central New York, there were 7,915 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In the Hudson Valley, there were 8,000 reported incidents of domestic violence
· In the North Country, there were 1,927 reported incidents of domestic violence
Schumer today announced he is not only pushing for the reauthorization of the bill, but also for several new provisions that will make it stronger and more helpful for New York law enforcement. A summary of key provisions appears below:
· Updates the criminal provisions of federal anti-stalking laws to capture all forms of electronic communication, and to include intimidation, under certain circumstances, as a prohibited form of conduct. This provision adds the words “intimidate” to two different parts of 18 USC 2261A, the federal anti-stalking law. This would then include (a) travel in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate or place under surveillance with intent to do these things when doing so places the person, an immediate family member, or spouse or intimate partner of the person in reasonable fee or death or causes substantial emotional distress. (b) The provision would also include using the mail or any interactive computer service as a mode of stalking– and this bill would add “electronic communication system of interstate commerce” to this list of instrumentalities.
· Underserved populations (including rural populations without access to services) now have a specific grant program for services for adult and youth victims in these communities – previously the program was exclusively aimed at public education. This grant program aims to address the unique challenges faced by victims of domestic and dating violence in rural jurisdictions, who may be geographically isolated from accessing services. In addition, the specific grant program that has targeted law enforcement in rural areas has been expanded to include sexual assault forensic examiner programs and the development of sexual assault response teams, which helps to pool scarce resources in rural areas and make sure that important information-sharing occurs.
· The bill provides for 20 percent of funds (STOP grants) to go specifically to crimes of sexual violence. The STOP Program promotes a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to enhancing advocacy and improving the criminal justice system’s response to violent crimes against women. It encourages the development and improvement of effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies to address violent crimes against women and the development and improvement of advocacy and services in cases involving violent crimes against women. Although sexual assault has been one of the core crimes addressed by VAWA since its passage in 1994, a smaller percentage of grant funding has gone to sexual violence programming than is proportional to victimization rates (nationwide, the CDC reports that 35% of women in the US are victims of domestic violence and 18 percent are victims of sexual assault – but historically only 3 of the charges filed by STOP-funded prosecutors were sexual assault and only 13 of victims served by these grants were sexual assault victims).
· In addition, the STOP grants can now specifically be used for training law enforcement and judicial officers in areas of dating violence and stalking, in addition to the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault. These are two of the fastest-growing areas of concern. Senator Schumer was a champion of making sure that forensic exam kits were available to victims without ultimate expense to the victims. This bill prevents states that use STOP grants to pay for these kits from charging victims and require them to seek reimbursement – they must be made available free of charge.
· College campuses: The bill requires higher education recipients of VAWA grants and other federal funds to collect and make public statistics on reports of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking incidents that were reported to campus security authorities or local police agencies, in addition to other crimes that were included in the original VAWA.
· The critical Court-Appointed Special Advocate program (CASA) has had its funding levels maintained at $12 million – one of the most effective programs in the country that has helped countless children navigate the court system in abuse and neglect cases.
· The legislation increases oversight of anti-domestic violence programs by, among other provisions, requiring twice-a-year conferral processes to allow stakeholders to provide input as to how things are working in the field. Stakeholders include state and tribal coalitions and technical assistance providers who receive funding through grants administered by the Office on Violence Against Women, within DOJ, and other key stakeholders. The areas of conferral will include the administration of grants, unmet needs, promising practices in the field, and emerging trends. Also under this legislation, the IG under the DOJ would conduct yearly waste, fraud, and abuse audits of a selected number of grantees each year.