Funding awarded for law enforcement, prosecutors, judicial strategies, victim services
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 15, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced more than $2 million in grant funding to 33 agencies to stop sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as well as to enhance victim services.
The Governor said it is unacceptable that, on average, 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In Kentucky, more than 41% of women and 26% of men experience intimate partner physical violence or rape in their lifetimes.
“Victims have suffered unimaginable trauma, and our state should do everything possible to provide the highest level of resources, safest shelters and quality treatment for all survivors," said Gov. Beshear. “It will take all of us fighting together to say enough is enough and stop these horrific crimes from continuing to happen in the commonwealth. I promise to continue working every day to create a better, safer Kentucky for future generations."
The federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) Formula Grant Program funds are received from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice. OVW requires state administrating agencies to allocate 25% for law enforcement, 25% for prosecutors, 30% for victim services, 5% for state and local courts and 15% for discretionary distribution. Accordingly, the funding should be used for projects that serve or focus on adults and youth (ages 11-24) who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.
“VAWA funding is critical to preventing and reducing domestic and sexual violence now and into the future," said Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey. “Thank you to these 33 agencies for working together to provide support and seek justice for victims. The commonwealth is grateful to have you on Team Kentucky, and we appreciate your service."
For a full list of 2022-2023 VAWA sub-award recipients, visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet's website.
Leaders from several organizations noted the beneficial impact that these funds will make on their communities.
“Funding from VAWA allows us to have a trauma therapist specifically dedicated to providing targeted, evidence-based clinical and support services to these women to help address the violence and associated self-destructive behaviors and to provide education to all women admitted to the program on trauma-related care," said Connie Neal, assistant director for Chrysalis House.
“Participating in the VAWA grant program has been a tremendous asset to the Christian County Attorney's Office," John Soyars, Christian County Attorney, said. “Having a prosecutor devoted to helping victims of domestic violence and dedicated to the prosecution of those who perpetrate it makes our communities better, safer and healthier places for our citizens and their families."
For more information on the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, visit https://www.justice.gov/ovw.
Beshear-Coleman Administration Fights for Victims of Crime
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has consistently championed reducing and preventing domestic and dating violence and abuse while helping victims and survivors receive the services they need. During the 2022 regular General Assembly session, the Governor signed Senate Bill 38 into law, which defines Class A and B felony incest as a violent offense, requiring offenders to serve longer sentences for committing this heinous crime. Additionally, he signed Senate Bill 271 into law in April, which will improve how domestic violence data in Kentucky is collected, analyzed and used. SB 271 will ultimately enhance responses and prevention efforts from agencies, including law enforcement, courts and service providers, and better meet the needs of victims and survivors.
In October, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey awarded nearly $8 million to 56 programs and projects that support victims of violent crime by using the State Fiscal Recovery Fund of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to ensure that support for victims and survivors of crime continues despite the nationwide reduction in the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) awards. In September, the Governor announced nearly $23 million in grant funding from the federal VOCA Formula Victim Assistance Grant Program supporting victims of crime in the commonwealth.
The administration has awarded more than $104 million in grant funding to victim service agencies across the commonwealth.
At the beginning of the year, Gov. Beshear and Secretary Harvey announced that an additional $849,491 in federal grant funding had been awarded to the Kentucky State Police (KSP) to hire a new investigator with the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) investigative team to focus on investigating and identifying sexual offenders in Jefferson County. The KSP SAKI investigative team was originally formed in July 2021 after the U.S. Department of Justice awarded $1.5 million to the commonwealth to leverage existing investigative resources within the KSP Crime Lab by transitioning three trained investigators and a criminal intelligence analyst from the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General to KSP.
In February and December 2021, Gov. Beshear announced awards totaling over $4 million to fight sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Services, Training, Officers, Prosecution (STOP) formula grant program.
During the 2021 legislative session, Gov. Beshear signed HB 310, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Jefferson County. HB 310 allows a commonwealth attorney to file a petition for an involuntary commitment for violent offenders who are incompetent to stand trial and would not benefit from additional treatment but are deemed a danger to themselves or others. By signing this bill, the Governor closed a gap in state law that allowed some defendants to avoid both prison time and mental health treatment.
Report Domestic Violence
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, no matter when the violence took place, please contact the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs.
There are 13 programs providing services to all victims of sexual violence in Kentucky. Services are free of charge. Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence is welcome, including family members and friends close to victims.
Call the free 24-hour hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).