I call on American men and women in families to give greater respect to one another. We must end the deadly scourge of domestic violence in our country.
-- President Clinton, State of the Union Address, 1996
Domestic Violence - A National Problem
The Clinton Administration has taken strong steps to fight domestic violence. The President fought for and signed the Violence Against Women Act, as part of the 1994 Crime Act. For the first time, the federal government adopted a comprehensive approach to fighting domestic violence and violence against women, combining tough new penalties with the programs to prosecute offenders and help women victims of violence. The passage of the Violence Against Women Act was a crucial turning point in our national effort to break the cycle of domestic violence.
The Act forged a new strategy to fight domestic violence:
- Provided $1.6 billion over five years to hire more prosecutors and improve domestic violence training among prosecutors, police officers, and health and social services professionals.
- Provided for more shelters, counseling services, and research into effective public education campaigns.
- Made interstate domestic violence and harassment a federal offense.
- Outlawed the possession of firearms by those who are subject to a restraining order.
- Required states to honor protective orders issued in other states and gave victims the right to mandatory restitution and the right to address the court at the time of sentencing.
The Violence Against Women Act is the cornerstone to the Presidents efforts to fight domestic violence. The Administration continues to build on this achievement in order to work to prevent and eliminate domestic violence.
Working to Combat Violence
Extended the Brady Bill to deny handguns to anyone convicted of family violence. Under the law, anyone who commits an act of family violence against a spouse or child would be prohibited from having a gun. The law also adds domestic violence convictions to the Brady Checklist sent to local law enforcement for a background check prior to each handgun sale from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Bolstered local law enforcement, prosecution and victims' services to better address violence against women through $411.5 million in state grants. Since October 1995, the Administration has awarded more than $411.5 million in S*T*O*P Violence Against Women Grants to states to encourage cooperation and coordination that allow the criminal justice system to respond more effectively to domestic and sexual violence.
Signed the Interstate Stalking Punishment and Prevention Act of 1996, which makes it a federal crime to cross state lines intending to injure or harass another person.
Working with local prosecutors to stop domestic violence. The Department of Justice awarded states $106 million to encourage policies of arrest of domestic violence offenders at the local level. Since FY 1996, another $6 million has been disbursed under the National Stalker and Domestic Violence Reduction Program to improve the collection, handling, and accessibility of crime data.
Helping Provide Resources to Victims of Violence
Created the Violence Against Women Office. In March of 1995, President Clinton named Bonnie Campbell, former Attorney General of Iowa, to be Director of the Violence Against Women Office at the Department of Justice. In making the announcement, the President noted "for the first time in history, the federal government becomes a full time partner in the fight to curb violence against women." The Department's Violence Against Women Office leads the comprehensive national effort to combine tough new federal laws with assistance to states and localities to fight domestic violence and other crimes against women. It is a national resource for all those involved in this national problem.
Established nationwide 24-hour domestic violence hotline providing immediate crisis intervention, counseling and local shelter referral to victims across the country. The hotline has received over 225,000 calls from all over the country, since it was launched by President Clinton on February 21, 1996.
More than quadrupled funding for battered women's shelters. In 1993, the federal government spent $20 million on battered women's shelters. In FY 1999, the Clinton Administration allocated $88.6 million. And it has spent even more on related services, such as community outreach and prevention, childrens counseling, and linkage to child protection services. Overall, the Clinton Administration has granted states, territories, and Indian tribes over $200 million to support the system of 1,400 emergency shelters, safe homes, and related services nationwide.
Compensating victims of violence. Through the Department of Justices Office for Victims of Crime, the Administration awarded $343 million in FY 1998 to help compensate crime victims, including domestic violence survivors, for their losses; provide victims with emergency shelter, food and medical care; and improve, through police-and court-training, how the criminal justice system handles their cases.
Helping victims gain access to the legal system. On June 20, 1996, President Clinton announced $46 million in grants to localities to utilize community policing to combat domestic violence. The Justice Departments Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services has funded grants to over 300 jurisdictions for innovative community policing strategies aimed at curbing domestic violence. In addition, the Justice Department has encouraged mandatory arrests policies for the primary aggressor in domestic violence cases by awarding grants to 122 communities which are pursuing this strategy to combat violence.
Strengthening the health care systems ability to screen, treat, and prevent family and intimate violence. The Clinton Administration is helping to train those in the medical profession to identify and deal with the problem of battered women. These efforts include development of a framework for evaluating health care provider training programs; surveying all medical schools to determine the extent to which students are being prepared to deal effectively with issues of family and intimate violence; and working with national nursing organizations to begin collaborations and the development of a national nursing strategy on dealing with domestic violence.
Leading a National Effort to Raise Awareness of Domestic Violence
The Advisory Council on Violence Against Women. President Clinton created the Advisory Council Against Women on July 13, 1995. Co-chaired by Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, the Council consists of 47 experts -- representatives from law enforcement, media, business, sports, health and social services, and victim advocacy -- working together to prevent violence against women and raise awareness of this pressing problem.
Raising Awareness in the federal workplace. President Clinton signed an executive memorandum on October 2, 1995, requiring all federal departments to begin employee awareness efforts on domestic violence. The Justice Department has distributed more than 90,000 copies of a domestic violence awareness booklet entitled Stop the Cycle of Violence. In addition, Secretary Shalala distributed workplace violence guidelines for employees of the Department of Health and Human Services with a special section addressing domestic violence. These guidelines both help create and support a work environment in which potentially violent situations in HHS are prevented and effectively addressed and increase employee understanding of the nature of workplace violence. The Office of Personnel Management produced two publications, distributed government wide: Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide for Agency Planners (published in February 1998) and A Managers Handbook: Handling Traumatic Events (published in December 1996). Both publications include guidance for agencies in handling domestic violence that spills over into the workplace.
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