Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch today announced seven awards totaling $2.7 million in funding through the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative (SAJI) to improve how the justice system in general, and prosecution in particular, handles sexual assault cases. The seven pilot sites will implement performance measures that reflect promising practices for prosecuting sexual assault and promoting justice for victims, receiving technical assistance from AEquitas: The Prosecutor’s Resource on Violence Against Women and participating in the evaluation of the initiative.
“Sexual and domestic violence is a heinous crime, inflicting physical and emotional trauma that can linger for years, with grave consequences for survivors and their loved ones; for neighborhoods and communities and for our country as a whole,” said Attorney General Lynch. “The Department of Justice is committed to doing everything it can to help prevent, investigate and prosecute these horrendous crimes – including working to ensure that our greatest partners in this effort, the state and local law enforcement officers on whom we all rely, have the tools, training and resources they need to fairly and effectively address allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
The seven pilot sites that will receive funding through the OVW’s Sexual Assault Justice Initiative are: Jefferson County Commission, Birmingham, Alabama; city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles; Cobb County Board of Commissioners, Marietta, Georgia; city and county of Honolulu, Honolulu; New Hampshire Department of Justice, Concord, New Hampshire; Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma; and county of Sauk, Baraboo, Wisconsin. The awards for each site range from $390,000 – $400,000.
Attorney General Lynch made the announcement at an event announcing the release of a Justice Department guidance on “Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence,” in Washington, D.C. The grants are part of the Justice Department’s ongoing commitment to protecting women from violence and strengthening the capacity of communities to respond to domestic and sexual violence.
The demonstration initiative is designed to strengthen the justice system’s response to sexual violence and enhance collaborations among sexual assault victim services providers, law enforcement agencies and sexual assault medical forensic services providers. With funding from the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program, the Rural Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Grant Program and the Tribal Governments Grant Program, SAJI sites will be able to use the funds to strengthen services in their communities that support sexual assault victims.