Md. gets $426,000 to combat domestic violence Grant will be shared by 33 organizations

November 29, 1995|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

Maryland will receive $426,000 in federal grant money to help law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, victim assistance groups and others to combat domestic violence in the state, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend announced yesterday.

The state is one of just two in the nation -- Rhode Island is the other -- to receive the money, which was made available under the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994. It will supplement Maryland's efforts in implementing its five-year STOP Violence Against Women plan, Mrs. Townsend said.

Under that plan, the state developed a strategy to identify and prosecute abusers, safeguard victims and improve the coordination of those efforts on the local level, she said.

At the same time yesterday, the lieutenant governor announced creation of a statewide Family Violence Council, which she will co-chair with Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., to continue the state's effort in implementing the plan.

Mr. Curran summed up the council's charge, saying, "We are bringing together everyone with a stake in this issue -- law enforcement, advocates and providers, prosecutors, legislators and judges -- not so each can focus on his or her own piece of the puzzle, but so we can all take a comprehensive look at how our legal system responds to family violence."

The council, which will meet for the first time Dec. 19, will examine state policies and laws and recommend how to improve legal protections for family violence victims.

In some cases, officials said, an effort will be made to do a better job of enforcing what already is on the books.

L The federal grant money is to be shared by 33 organizations.

Officials said it will pay for emergency transportation for victims, extra legal assistance for battered women, a new crisis hot line, an education and prevention program in elementary schools, and additional counseling.

"Violence against women is an escalating public safety crisis," said Mrs. Townsend, who oversees criminal justice issues for Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Speaking to a group gathered for the first statewide summit on domestic violence -- a daylong event at the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies, just south of Baltimore -- Mrs. Townsend cited "alarming" statistics of family violence in Maryland.

Last year, 17,000 incidents of domestic violence and 3,200 cases of aggravated assault were reported.

In all, 91 people died in the state as a result of domestic violence, she said.

"Domestic violence is not a women's issue," Mrs. Townsend said.

"It is a family issue. It is a community issue. It is an issue of child abuse. It is an issue of crime prevention. It is an issue of justice. And most fundamentally, it is an issue of our values."

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