Oct. 9th, 2008

gretchen_marie: (dandelion)
I have a favor to ask of you.

Actually, it's not a favor for ME. It's a favor for her, and her, and him and his three kids, and that little girl over there who cries in her sleep, and the woman who woke up with bruises all over her body and her hair ripped out.

Okay, maybe it's a favor for me, too.

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Iowa Legislature pulled a fast one back in Fiscal Year 2003. Sometime quite literally in the middle of the night, the decision was made to eliminate the line item in the state budget for services to victims of sexual and domestic violence. Millions of dollars were appropriated elsewhere, and the removal of the line item meant that no other money could be funneled towards this need... line item elimination is HUGE in governmental budgeting. Trust me on this one. From my perspective (and I know that perspective is shared by many other people) it shows a total lack of concern about victims of violence.

What's most catastrophic about this is... nearly all of the sexual and domestic violence victims' advocacy programs in the state were funded at least in great part by these funds. Almost immediately, programs started to close and services were merged or cut. Many of you were around when I was informed that Deaf Women of Iowa Against Abuse was one of the programs that would have to either merge or close the doors to the victims we served. A total of nine programs closed or were absorbed by other programs during this time.

Between then and now, the state Attorney General's office has scrambled to provide funds to help keep the remaining programs at least extant. The way they've done this is to draw funds from the victim compensation fund... the money that's used to help pay for therapy for a child whose parents have been murdered, that's used to pay for a funeral of a domestic violence murder, that's used to cover emergency room services for a rape victim... you get the idea. More information about this fund is available at Iowa Crime Victims Compensation Program.

So basically... it's been robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Now, the victim compensation fund is close to being depleted. It's replenished by the penalties that criminals pay, and restitution that is made to victims from their perpetrators. It can't be replenished fast enough. It has been decimated, and this has sometimes resulted in some tough choices having to be made.

The Legislature has replaced the line item in the state budget.

What they haven't done, though, is replace the funding.

http://www.victimstosurvivors.org is the website. Go take a look at it. Watch the PSA that's linked at the top of the page.

And then contact your legislators. Use the "Contact Your Elected Official" link on the left of the page. Just... do something.

Please?

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November 2011

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