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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1998202/307-0703



DULUTH, MN - - Representatives from 38 states will meet in Duluth tomorrow to receive training sponsored by the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Grants Office (VAWGO) on improving services and enhancing community involvement in responding to domestic violence and child abuse in rural areas. The participants, who have received Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Assistance grants from VAWGO, include law enforcement personnel, shelter advocates, batterers' program facilitators, judges, prosecutors and court personnel.

Through this program, rural communities receive funding to develop or strengthen cooperative efforts and projects among law enforcement officers, prosecutors, victim advocacy groups and other related parties to investigate and prosecute incidents of domestic violence and child abuse. The funds can also be used to provide treatment and counseling to victims.

"Domestic violence affects our smaller communities and our major metropolitan areas," said Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), which includes VAWGO. "That is why it is so important that we provide women in rural areas unique environment."

"One of the ways the Justice Department will provide equal access to training for rural domestic violence service providers is through the use of video and teleconferencing," said Bonnie Campbell, Director of the Violence Against Women Office. "If a program's limited staff cannot be spared to travel to this or future trainings, they will still be able to listen to experts speak on a variety of topics and receive assistance with local issues and concerns."

Since the inception of the rural program in 1996, the Justice Department has awarded some $32 million to help women and children in rural areas affected by domestic violence. Last year, VAWGO awarded $19.4 million to 62 rural jurisdictions in 38 states, which is more than three times the money and more than twice the number of grants awarded in the previous year.

Training topics will include prosecution and law enforcement; the intersection of child abuse, battering and children witnessing abuse; strengthening civil protection orders; using technology and advocacy.

Representatives participating in this first rural training session are from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

To learn more about the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Enforcement Assistance grant program and other violence against women efforts, visit OJP's website at, or call the National Criminal Justice Reference Service toll-free

at 1-800/851-3420.

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After hours contact Linda Mansour at 202/616-3534 or page at 1-888/582-6750.