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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 1999202/307-0703


Justice Department Monies Aid Mental Health Efforts

WASHINGTON, DC - The Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), part of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), today announced additional funding to aid victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. With this additional $342,086, OVC has provided more than $841,000 to Project Heartland, the principal mental health provider for survivors of the nation's worst terrorist attack.

Project Heartland was created by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in 1995. In 1997, OVC provided funding to Project Heartland to support crisis counseling activities at the Safe Haven facilities in Oklahoma City and Denver, the site of the trial some 650 miles away. Travel and training for staff and volunteers working with the victims were also funded.

"The emotional and psychological impact of this horrendous crime has affected many people," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "Project Heartland has greatly contributed to the process of healing because the effects of such a crime can last long after the last piece of rubble has been hauled away and a jury has sentenced a defendant."

The Office for Victims of Crime was established by the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) of 1984 to oversee diverse programs that benefit victims of crime. OVC provides substantial funding to state victim assistance and compensation programs -- the lifeline services that help victims to heal.

"The importance of programs, such as Project Heartland, are immeasurable," said Kathryn Turman, Acting Director of OVC. "The tireless efforts of those individuals who are involved in these programs provide victims of crime with needed support at a most vulnerable time in their lives."

OVC also trains those who work with victims and develops projects to enhance victims' rights and services. This frequently involves responding to high-profile incidents such as last year's Capitol Hill shootings and the embassy bombings in Africa.

OVC administers the Crime Victims Fund, which is the source of funding for Project Heartland. The Fund is supported solely by fines and penalty assessments paid by federal criminal offenders, not taxpayers. The funds are used to support nearly 3,000 victim services agencies, such as domestic violence shelters, child abuse and sexual assault programs and programs to assist survivors of homicide.

For more information about OVC, visit the Office for Victims of Crime Website at or the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Website at Or, call the Office for Victims of Crime Resource Center at 800-627-6872. Media should contact OJP's Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at 202-307-0703.

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CONTACT: Office of Justice Programs, 202-307-0703; or after hours, Linda Mansour of OJP, 202-616-3534.