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August 1997
Hawaii County Report to State Board (Helene Hale)
Gambling Study
Domestic Violence: Family Court Monitoring Project (Sue Irvine)
Domestic Violence: Interview with State Attorney General Bronster (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
International Relations Committee (Helene Hale)
Mauna Kea (Michele Sheehan)
Sustainable Development (Helene Hale)
Who We Are
Note from the Editor (Michele Sheehan)

Domestic Violence: Interview with State Attorney General Bronster

(This is a condensed form of Suzanne Meisenzahl's [Violence Prevention Committee Chair] article in the in [June] Aloha Voter)

The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 provides grants known as STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) grants to help local government develop and improve law enforcement and prosecution strategies and improve victim services for cases involving violent crimes against women. The goal is to make life safe so women can lead lives without fear of sexual assault or battering and that offenders are held accountable for their actions. The STOP grants are to cover a six year period . In Hawaii, Attorney General Margery Bronster was appointed State administrator for this program. Ms. Bronster was happy to meet with us and discuss this program stating that she appreciated our interest in the subject and hopes that domestic violence will become a part of the public and private dialogue so that people aren't afraid to report it. The following are some excerpts from that meeting.

How much money was received in Hawaii under this program?

First year $420,000; second and third years each $900,000. One quarter of the funds must go to service providers, one quarter to police, one quarter to prosecutors, and the final quarter is discretionary. Focus on the first two years was educating prosecutors and police so that people from the chief all the way down to the beat cops are aware of the issues and aware that this is a real problem. This isn't just a fight within a family, but a law enforcement problem and a community violence problem.

On the service provider side ... need to get a handle on how large the problem is in the community, a sense of who the victims are, where the victims are, and making sure that victims actually become part of the criminal justice system. (i.e. victims not reporting or getting needed services). A project of first year funding is establishing a data base to locate problems. This base will focus third year funds to provide direct service to victims.

Is there a Strategic plan for the six year period?

…We have been looking at where our concerns and issues are. I have tried particularly in this last year to take the criminal justice and law enforcement people, personnel and resources in my office and try to merge them. In a study, we found that with victims of sexual assault there is a tremendous number of people who are assaulted by family members, by neighbors, or people they know so it ends up with a real interplay between victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. In identifying these kinds of issues we are making some progress.

What kind of planning process was used?

We put together a committee of representatives from law enforcement which includes both the police, prosecutors, and service providers -both sexual assault and domestic violence- and other groups including legislators and representatives from the coalition on the status of women groups.

Is the Planning committee ongoing?

We keep meeting to determine where grant money should go, provide a check on how well we are doing.

Were federal guidelines allocating 25% to police, prosecutor, and service providers followed?

For the first year's grant, the 25% for the service providers and the 25% discretionary went toward the data base. Data base can be used by all groups.

How are the plans periodically assessed to make sure that they fit circumstances and the vision?

We do that directly through the VAWA committee. We meet at least quarterly; are constantly reassessing; try very hard to make everyone welcome.

What is the sub-grant award process and who are the sub-grantees?

We had various groups come together on the planning committee, set priorities, and set funding for the various requests. Our sub-grantees are the police and prosecutors ... For example, one of the things we are doing is training more people for nurse `s training SANE-Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations basically make sure that victims that come in, particularly on the neighbor islands where they don't have doctors available to do the complete forensic screening that is necessary, they have nurses who are trained, so that the case doesn't fall apart because of inadequate forensic examination.

How do people in the community find out about the second year's discretionary available funds?

.... We are communicating with a limited group and the more information that is out there the better off we are. More applications the better, we will be able to pick amongst the best of the best. The League could help us get the word out. We are looking for areas that people feel either are under-served as communities or specific problems that are being left un-addressed.

We appreciate the time the attorney general took to meet with us and we support her efforts in identifying issues such as the relationships between sexual assault and domestic violence...

Although the planning process for using the STOP funds includes discussions among the various domestic violence groups in the community, we need more formal strategic planning and evaluation for the six year period of this grant. We would like to see a list of established priorities and a , mechanism in place to evaluate results. Many people currently involved in domestic violence prevention efforts have a vested interest in saying that everything is going well, but how are their programs and results actually measured?

Ms. Bronster mentioned that she would like to find out which programs have lost funding and perhaps help to fund some of them again. How do we know these programs are worthy of funding? Given the number of women who have died in our community as a result of domestic violence, women are not safe. Based on our work in monitoring the courts, we do not see that batterers are being held accountable. Do we want to continue to fund existing programs or should we be looking at systemic changes?

Suzanne Meisenzahl

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