Ashcroft promises violence funding
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APRIL 6, 2001

In a speech in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the Department of Justice will ask Congress to increase its domestic violence budget by an additional $102.5 million for fiscal year 2002.

"We want to reduce violence in specific and target areas and help communities address violence against women by assisting in prosecution and victims' assistance," Ashcroft told attendees of a criminologists' convention yesterday.

Ashcroft's words are the first specifics about the agency's spending plans since President George W. Bush released his $1.96 trillion budget blueprint in February. Like a number of other federal agencies whose spending authority was limited by Bush, the Department of Justice's budget was cut by 4.8 percent.

A number of programs the administration says are repetitive or questionable will be cut, according to the blueprint. But the administration considers funding for domestic violence a priority and any increase would no doubt be appreciated throughout Indian Country.

According to a Justice Department survey released in July 2000, about 38 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women reported being victimized by an intimate, or domestic, partner. The rate was the highest of any ethnic group.

Some 16 percent of Indian women reported they had been raped in their lifetime, while 30 percent reported they had been the victim of assault. About 10 percent reported being the victim of stalking.

Statistics released last month by the Justice Department also point to the need for domestic violence funding in Indian Country. Between 1993 and 1998, 23 per 1,000 American Indian women were victimized compared to 11 per 1,000 African-American, 8 per 1,000 White, and 2 per 1,000 Asian-American.

American Indians are less than 1 percent of the population.

At the urging of President Clinton, Congress renewed the Violence Against Women Act last fall. First passed in 1994, the act is designed to prevent intimate partner violence and help women escape violent situations.

Since then, it has helped 900,000 women, says the White House. Last December, 82 tribes and tribal organizations benefited from the act through $6.35 million in funding awarded by the Justice Department.

With the increase promised by Ashcroft, total domestic violence funding for fiscal year 2002 would be increased from $288 million to $390 million. How this will impact other DOJ programs won't be known until the full budget is released, however, as the administration is expected to shift money around within the department instead of asking for new appropriations from Congress.

Get the Justice Budget Overview:
Department of Justice: Highlights of 2002 Funding (The White House February 2001)

Get the Intimate Partner Violence Survey:
Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey (The National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice. July 2000)

Relevant Links:
Violence Against Women Office, Department of Justice -

Related Stories:
DOJ: Violent crime plagues Indian Country (3/19)
Fiscal Year 2002: The Budget Overview (3/1)
Grants awarded to combat domestic violence (12/05)
Violence act signed into law (10/30)
Violence against women act renewed (10/12)
House renews violence act (09/27)
Clinton wants violence act renewed (9/26)
Violence in Indian Country (6/15)