(INDIANAPOLIS) - The Violence Against Women Act brings $7 million annually into the state of Indiana, but unless Congress acts, that money will go away in a few months.
Jack Rinehart of RTV6 reports that the act funds the city-wide Baker One project, which requires officers to take detailed information at the scene of domestic crimes to move the case to court without help from reluctant victims.
The Baker One project helps police recognize the levels and the frequency of domestic violence so that police can direct resources not only at the victim, but the suspect as well.
"The officer has some resource cards that list the number of resources whether it be financial counseling, anger management, a number of different things, and give that to them and encourage them, if they so choose, to take advantage of that opportunity," said Major Tom Kern.
The funds from the act provide millions to local shelters for counseling, legal assistance, long-term housing and a wide variety of critical services.
The Violence Against Women Act funds a third of the budget of the Julian Center, which provides services to nearly 8,000 women a year. Shelter operators have never seen this crucial funding held up in Congress.
"It is crazy that for the very first time the Violence Against Women Act has become a political football," said Melissa Pershing, with the Julian Center. "We've never had a problem getting it re-authorized every several years since 1994 when it was first introduced."
The act got caught up in the fiscal cliff debate in Congress, and was put on the chopping block because it expanded the program without cutting costs elsewhere.
Funding from the act will run out in May.
There are several resources you can turn to if you're in a domestic violence situation:
The Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis at 317-926-4357.
The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 800-332-73-85 or 205-4673.
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