FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) and Its Member Agencies Are Holding a Press Conference May 31 to Prevent Monday Closings of the Court Advocacy Office Starting June 3.
RICADV requests that funds are quickly restored to continue lifesaving services and prevent the Monday closings from being a permanent loss.
Advocates, survivors, and supporters, including the Office of the Attorney General, stress the importance of this program.
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its member agencies that run the statewide Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, and Women's Resource Center) implore members of the community and public officials to join them at a press conference in support of the Court Advocacy Program. The offices will close on Mondays starting this Monday, June 3 if funding is not restored in time. With more than 70 percent of the program's core funding eliminated over the last seven years and with no other remaining areas to absorb the cuts, the agencies are left with no choice but to scale back these much needed services. Court advocates provide a lifeline to victims of domestic violence in the midst of abusive situations and the State of Rhode Island must protect these vital resources.
Every year since 1988, victims of domestic violence have been able to receive assistance and services from the Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program. And, every year since 2007, the funds for this program have been drastically slashed—it is now unable to fully operate with only $129,094 of its original $425,000 budget. It is impossible to staff four courthouses, 5 days a week with this very limited funding. The bottom line for victims of domestic violence is clear: the funds must be restored.
The statewide program's court advocates provide services in every city in Rhode Island through the four regional courthouses — Garrahy, Noel, McGrath and Murray. As set forth by the law, these advocates help victims navigate the legal system by educating them about their rights and assisting them in securing those rights; informing victims of the availability of protective orders and helping them obtain them as appropriate; and referring them to vital social services. These are all critical steps in increasing victim safety—steps that can be overwhelming to those in crisis with no legal background.
In 2012, the courts had more than 8,000 victims of domestic violence seeking advocacy services. This included more than 3,000 civil protective orders and 5,000 criminal proceedings. Unfortunately, with the State budget cuts, as well as various federal reductions that have had an impact on the agencies, it has become impossible to provide the same level of service. State officials must do the right thing for victims of domestic violence and restore funding.
Details are below.
A press conference to raise awareness about the Court Advocacy Program and to restore its funding so that the offices can remain open every weekday.
Deborah DeBare, RICADV
Stacey Veroni, Office of the Attorney General
SOAR (Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships) - Survivors of DV
Friday, May 31, 2013
10 – 10:30 a.m.
Garrahy Courthouse (outside)
1 Dorrance Plaza
The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) is an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence. RICADV was formed in 1979 to support and assist the six domestic violence prevention agencies in Rhode Island. The organization also provides leadership to its six member agencies, strives to create justice for victims, and raises awareness on the issue of domestic violence in Rhode Island.