National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 252 Dated: July 2005 Pages: 30-32
This examination of State and local responses to the Federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) found new approaches by prosecutors in Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon that increased the punishment of offenders who victimized women and eased victims' stress related to case processing.
The VAWA, which was incorporated in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, is designed to increase the ability of law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and private nonprofit victim assistance organizations to serve women victims of violence, ensure their safety, and increase offender accountability. Following the passage of VAWA, the court attorney in Maricopa County, AZ, created a Family Violence Bureau to prosecute felony domestic violence, stalking, elder abuse, and child physical abuse. The State's attorney in Wicomico County, MD, assigned VAWA-funded assistant attorneys to handle domestic violence cases in district court and then in circuit court for felony cases. The district attorney of Essex County, MA, increased the number of bilingual domestic-violence-unit advocates in the office; and the district attorney's Domestic Violence Unit in Multnomah County, OR, was expanded to include six attorneys, a legal intern, and six victims' advocates. One of the major benefits of VAWA was a significant increase in collaboration and cooperation in addressing domestic violence. Examples of such collaboration are cited in this article. VAWA funds have also helped stimulate the allocation of more resources for the prosecution of offenders who have victimized women, as well as more resources for supporting female victims in the course of the prosecution of their cases. Key steps are outlined for "what works" in the prosecution of offenders who have victimized women.
Date Published: July 1, 2005
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