Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that Congress has directed the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to award $428,130 to the American Samoa Criminal Justice Planning Agency pursuant to the STOP (Services • Training • Officers • Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (STOP Program) for Fiscal Year 2005.
“Domestic violence is a serious problem that cuts across all demographic and cultural lines,” the Congressman said. “According to a recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report, family violence accounted for 11% of all reported and unreported violence between 1998 and 2002. The majority (73%) of family violence victims were female. Females were 84% of spouse abuse victims and 86% of victims of abuse at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
“The STOP Program provides much-needed funding that allows our local criminal justice agency to develop programs to combat this problem which American Samoa also faces. By providing basic services for victims of domestic violence, establishing training programs for police officers, court personnel, and prosecutors, and by forging partnerships with community organizations dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, local law enforcement are able to offer an integrated, comprehensive approach to curbing domestic violence in American Samoa.”
“In large part, due to targeted assistance programs like this one, with our federal agencies working in partnership with local law enforcement in the communities, the rate of family violence has fallen between 1993 and 2002 from an estimated 5.4 victims to 2.1 victims per 1,000 U.S. residents.”
“The STOP Program was authorized by Congress under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) and reauthorized and amended by the Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000). The STOP Program is administered by the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.”
“All states, territories, and the District of Columbia are eligible to apply for a STOP formula grant award. STOP formula grants and sub-grants are intended for use by states; state, local, and tribal courts; Indian tribal governments; units of local government; and nonprofit, nongovernmental victim services programs. States (and territories) should seek to carry out these strategies by forging lasting partnerships between the criminal justice system and victim advocacy organizations and by encouraging communities to look beyond traditional resources and to new partners to respond more vigorously to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.”
“In compliance with VAWA 2000, each state must allocate at least 25 percent of the STOP Program funds it receives to law enforcement, at least 25 percent to prosecution, at least 30 percent to nonprofit, non-governmental victim services, and at least 5 percent to court programs. The remaining 15 percent may be allocated at the state's discretion within the statutory parameters of the STOP Program,” the Congressman concluded.