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DOJ grants expand legal services for people who have experienced gender-based violence

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News brief

Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada and Idaho are among the states receiving grants to expand legal services for survivors of gender-based violence.

Of nearly $50 million, a little over $3 million from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women is making its way into Mountain West communities. The funds will expand resources for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says this could provide more access to legal representation, language assistance and court-related programs.

“These grants will help expand access to the services and support that are essential to bringing justice within reach for survivors of gender-based violence,” Garland said in a press release.

Kelly Miller of the Idaho Coaltion Against Sexual and Domestic Violence says they’ll be providing representation in civil cases for children and young adults who have been sexually assaulted.

“We have seen a very significant need particularly from young people in schools who have been sexually assaulted by a peer to make sure that that environment is safe, so that they can continue their education,” she said.

She says a paper in the Journal of College Student Retention shows 34% of university students who’ve experienced sexual violence drop out of school, while only about 30% of students drop out overall.

The coalition received a $800,000 grant — the largest in the region. Denver’s Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center, the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council in New Mexico, Safe Harbor in Lake County, Montana, and Washoe Legal Services in Reno, Nevada, received at or nearly $600,000 each, according to the Justice Department.

Including those from our region, nearly $50 million dollars in grants were dispersed throughout the country. That includes about $14 million for projects to improve the response of the civil and criminal justice systems for families with a history of domestic violence, the department says.

Allison Randall, acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women, says some grants can help people navigate “potentially dangerous points along the way,” like divorce.

Some grants also will be used to train workers in the court system and child protective services.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.