STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - September 27, 2006)
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By Mr. DEWINE:
S 3956. A bill to create a grant program for collaboration programs that ensure coordination among criminal justice agencies, adult protective service agencies, victim assistance programs, and other agencies or organizations providing services to individuals with disabilities in the investigation and response to abuse of or crimes committed against such individuals; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. DEWINE. Mr. President, it is a well-known fact that people with disabilities face a great risk of abuse and victimization--in fact, studies indicate that disabled adults experience violence or abuse at least twice as often as those without disabilities. This shameful situation is made even worse by the fact that far too often these crimes are not reported, or if they are reported, they are not effectively prosecuted--with the result that crime victims with disabilities are left vulnerable to further victimization. This is a tragic situation and one which requires action.
The good news is that we have a model to follow, a response which works. Massachusetts has set up an excellent program to enhance cooperation and coordination between law enforcement and the State officials and programs which provide services and care to the disabled, and this coordination has greatly improved the ability of the criminal justice system to prosecute these offenders and protect those with disabilities from crime. In fact, since the implementation of the program, criminal referrals in these types of cases in Massachusetts went up from 32 before the program began to 880 in 2004, the most recent year for which we have statistics.
We should try to extend the success of the Massachusetts program around the country. Accordingly, today I am introducing the Crime Victims with Disabilities Act of 2006. This legislation would establish a $10 million Federal grant program to make money available to States and localities which are interested in setting up similar programs to enhance training, coordination, and cooperation within the law enforcement and disabilities services communities order to address this problem.
The legislation would require a State or local government to design a cooperative plan to improve the reporting and prosecution of crimes against people with disabilities, including within the system at least one criminal justice agency and at least one agency or organization which provides services to individuals with disabilities. The legislation encourages local innovation; as long as the application meets the basic goals of protecting people with disabilities from crime and prosecuting those who attempt to victimize them, it can be designed in whatever way the applicants decide will work best in the affected community. The grants would be for a maximum of $300,000 over 2 years, with a potential for a one-time renewal.
I have worked closely with the creators of the Massachusetts program and many others who work in law enforcement and who provide services to crime victims and people with disabilities, and I believe this legislation will help States and localities create programs that can address the problem of violence against people with disabilities. This is a serious problem, and I encourage my colleagues to support this effort to help address it.
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