DEWINE INTRODUCES CRIME VICTIMS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
Contact: Andrew Langworthy
U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) today introduced the Crime Victims With Disabilities Act, which would enhance cooperation and coordination between law enforcement and the state officials and programs which provide services and care to the disabled. The bill would build upon a successful training and coordination program operating in Massachusetts by making funds available for states and localities to set up similar programs.
"It is shameful that some of our most vulnerable citizens, people with disabilities, experience violence or abuse at least twice as often as those without disabilities," said Senator DeWine. "The good news is that, in Massachusetts, we have a model to follow, a response which works. 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."
The act 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, in order to address this problem.
The legislation would require a state or local government to design a cooperative system to improve the reporting and prosecution of crimes against the 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.
The Massachusetts program has been a great success. 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 there are statistics.