Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined 55 other state and territory attorneys general to in a letter to congressional leaders and the chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees urging lawmakers to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
"Since the enactment of VAWA in 1994, domestic violence and sexual assault have come out of the shadows and been subjected to the bright light of the justice system, advocacy groups and legislative efforts. Much progress has been made, but a great deal of work still needs to be done," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "I urge Congress to reauthorize VAWA to allow these efforts at combating such violence to continue without interruption."
Under VAWA, originally passed in 1994, over $6 billion in grant funding has been awarded to government and nonprofit organizations nationwide. The grants have funded training and assistance to address and reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The grants have also funded resources and services to assist survivors, prosecute offenders and facilitate partnerships between prosecutors, judges, advocates, community organizations and health care providers.
In 2017, Rhode Island received $976, 314 in VAWA grants. Rhode Island has made great use of the funds it has received through VAWA over the years in its efforts to address this scourge of violence. These funds go toward maintaining and improving the statewide system of support for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence through preventative programs such as advocacy, training, legal services and housing for victims, as well as prosecution of offenders through specialized prosecutors and improved training for police. Recipients of VAWA grants include the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Day One, the Office of the Attorney General, and the RI Supreme Court Domestic Violence Training & Monitoring Unit, among others.
In their letter, the attorneys general emphasized the importance of VAWA to reducing the rate of sexual violence toward women and addressing the devastating effects of these crimes. They urged Congress to continue funding for programs that have helped millions of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.