Carroll Troopers, Others Attack Layoffs, Budgett Cuts

State Budget Cuts Hit More Than Just Police

October 06, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

State budget cuts will crumple counseling programs for rape victims and troubled youth and hinder the county's ability to provide lawyersfor indigent persons.

As legislators work to restore state budgetcuts in police and public safety, citizens and state employees facing cuts in other departments remain filled with uncertainty.

"We used to be able to guarantee that we could be at the hospital(with an assault victim) in 30 minutes," said Jo Ann Hare, director of Carroll's Rape Crisis Intervention Service, which lost all its state funding. "We can't promise that any longer."

Hare and other county officials said they are worried the state police cuts will dominate the debate over the deficit reduction plan.

The Rape Crisis Intervention Service, which provides a 24-hour hot line, counseling and weekly support groups for survivors of rape and sexual assault, is one of 17 such centers facing a 100 percent cut in state funding.

Hare, whose salary is 50 percent paid by the state, said the county service will lose the state's contribution of $56,000 this year.

Thatwill devastate the program, which receives some money from the Federal Crime Victims Assistance Program and the county commissioners, Hare said.

The cuts mean the service will be able to provide only thehot line and crisis-intervention services, and those may be limited,she said. Victims in need of counseling may be told to go elsewhere.

Hare said she also is worried there won't be money to pay professionals to train volunteers to accompany assault and rape victims to police stations and court proceedings.

The service also will be forced to cut its weekly support groups because there will be no money to pay the professional therapists to run them, she said.

That may hurt victims most because the center runs the only support groups in the county open to any sexual assault victim.

Carole, a county resident who has attended a sexual assault support group since January, said she would have been lost without the service.

The 50-year-oldwoman said she was looking for a support group after several counseling sessions with a therapist to deal with the pain of a sexual assault that happened on a date.

"I don't know what I would have done without the support group," said Carole, whose last name is being withheld to protect her privacy. "I had reached a point where I felt I needed the help of other people."

Hare said she is afraid that without the support groups and other services, victims of rape and sexual assault will turn to drugs and alcohol to ease their pain.

"This is something that can happen to anyone," she said.

Another counseling program to feel the bite of the budget ax is the Youth Services Bureaus.

In a reversal of a December decision to support the programs, the governor's latest budget cuts call for the withdrawal of funding from the state's 22 bureaus.

George W. Giese, director of the Carroll program, said, "We were very, very hard hit. It could be devastating to a great number of families."

Last July, Gov. William Donald Schaefer visited the Carroll bureau and sent a letter saying he found the facilities and staff to be "excellent," Giese said.

The bureaus, counseling centers for troubled teens, generally receive 75 percent of their money from the state and 25 percent from counties andmunicipalities. In Carroll, most of the budget comes from the county.

For fiscal 1992, the county contributed $250,000 to the program,while the state provided $110,000

The bureau is collecting private donations and has raised $700 this year, he said.

Giese said he and those who refer teens to the bureau will be forced to set new priorities, which means some teens won't get help. The bureau already has a waiting list; at Westminster High School, 20 families are on the list, he said.

With a $589,000 shortfall, the state Public Defender's Offices will feel the pinch and won't be able to hire private attorneys to represent indigent clients.

The office is losing the money used to hire outside lawyers needed when public defenders are asked to represent several clients with conflicting interests.

Carol Hanson, from the Carroll office, could not be reached for comment.

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