Encourages Congress to Reauthorize Critical Funds to Combat Domestic Violence
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 18, 2012) – Today Lt. Governor Brown joined Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal, and other senior Administration officials for an event highlighting the critical need for Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Numerous domestic violence programs in Maryland receive VAWA funds to provide critical services to victims, such as enhanced law enforcement training and lethality assessment programs, automated systems to notify victims when protective orders have been issued, and hospital-based domestic violence screening programs, which Lt. Governor Brown has championed throughout the State and helped launch at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly and Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown.
“Governor O’Malley and I are committed to ending domestic violence in Maryland and providing a robust network of resources for victims of violent crime,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “The critical funding from the Violence Against Women Act has allowed us to achieve significant progress, but much work remains. I urge Congress to reauthorize VAWA so that we may continue life-saving efforts throughout Maryland and take another step towards eliminating this senseless crime.”
Today’s event began with a panel discussion including Lt. Governor Brown and four other community leaders and legal advocates highlighting the successes of VAWA, as well as what more needs to be done to improve the nation’s response to violence against women. The discussion was moderated by domestic violence awareness advocate and Emmy Award-winning journalist Paula Zahn. In addition to Lt. Governor Brown, other panelists included Rev. Dr. Anne Marie Hunter, Director of Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence; Dave Thomas, Program Administrator, Division of Public Safety Leadership, Johns Hopkins University; Devon Boyer, Councilman, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation; and The Honorable Karen S. Adam, Judge, Arizona Superior Court in Pima County.
Following the panel discussion, the Vice President and others gave remarks on the Obama-Biden Administration’s ongoing coordination across the federal government to combat violence against women and announced new steps the Administration is taking to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. There were over 130 attendees at today’s event including law enforcement officers, advocacy groups working on VAWA reauthorization, school associations, state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions.
The VAWA program is administered by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP) which provides funding to law enforcement, prosecution, the court system and non-profit, non-government victim service agencies. Recipients are encouraged to forge lasting partnerships between the criminal justice system and victim advocacy organizations, and to look beyond traditional resources by partnering with community and faith-based organizations to respond more vigorously to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking crimes.
Combating domestic violence is a personal cause for Lt. Governor Brown. In August 2008, his cousin Cathy was senselessly murdered by her estranged boyfriend. The grief of her loss spurred Lt. Governor Brown to redouble efforts to address domestic violence in our state. Building on his experience as a legislator and the perspective provided by this tragedy, Lt. Governor Brown has championed reforms to combat domestic violence.
Brown led successful efforts in 2009 to improve domestic violence laws by giving judges the authority to take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. In 2010, Brown worked with members of the General Assembly, domestic violence advocates and stakeholders to pass legislation allowing a victim of domestic abuse to terminate a residential lease with a copy of a final protective order. Most recently, during the 2012 Legislative Session, the Lt. Governor advocated for legislation passed by the General Assembly to provide unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who must leave a job to escape domestic violence. And the Lt. Governor is leading efforts to increase the availability of hospital-based domestic violence screening programs.
Since taking office, the O’Malley-Brown administration has worked to reduce violent crime in Maryland by 10 percent each year and reduce violent crimes committed against women and children by 25 percent by the end of 2012. Collaborating with state and local partners, they have reduced violent crime statewide to the lowest rates since 1975, and domestic violence deaths in Maryland have dropped by 41% over the past three years.