NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston is one of twelve locations across the country to receive grant money to be used to battle domestic violence murders.
The Department of Justice is awarding $2.3 million to the targeted areas, and North Charleston could receive as much as $200,000, according to a release from the department.
The program is called the new Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Demonstration Initiative. A release states it is based on an assessment tool that researchers have identified that can be used to reliably recognize women who may be in fatally abusive relationships. Attempted strangulation, threats with weapons, sexual assault and obsessively jealous and controlling behavior are among the markers of particularly lethal abusers. Once at-risk victims are identified, law enforcement, prosecutors, courts and service providers can take action to protect them and their families.
"While the statistics seem overwhelming, we are not helpless in the face of these terrible crimes," said Acting Director of Office on Violence Against Women Bea Hanson. "We hope this evidence-based initiative to reduce domestic violence homicide is a breakthrough in preventing murders and serious injuries across the country."
"Every single day in America, three women die at the hands of their boyfriend, or their husband, or their ex-husband. Many of these women have been threatened or severely abused in the past. We know what risk factors put someone in greater danger of being killed by the person they love – and that also means we have the opportunity to step in and try to prevent these murders. That's why these grants are so important. They'll help stop violence before it turns deadly," said Vice President Biden.
"Domestic violence is a devastating crime – and it claims far too many lives each and every day," said Attorney General Holder. "With today's grant announcement, we are strengthening our ability to fight back more effectively – and aggressively – than ever before. And we're supporting the kinds of evidence-based domestic violence homicide prevention models that will allow us to reliably predict potentially lethal behavior, take steps to stop the escalation of violence and save lives."
Since passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent, but more work remains to reduce the most serious of this violence. OVW is partnering with the National Institute of Justice to rigorously monitor the implementation of the initiative and evaluate its outcomes. OVW is also working with national experts to provide technical assistance to the demonstration sites.
Other areas who will receive grant money include: Contra Costa County, Calif.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Rockdale County, Ga.; Winnebago County, Ill.; Boston; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Westchester County, N.Y.; Pitt County, N.C.; Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Rutland, Vt.
After the 12-month assessment phase, up to six of the demonstration sites will be selected to continue a three-year implementation phase.
South Carolina ranks second nationally in domestic violence homicides.