Changes to Grant Funding May Jeopardize Services for Victims
Press Release From SJC Prosecutor's Office:
The San Juan County Prosecutor's Program to serve crime victims is in jeopardy due to funding changes to implement a new multi-county, regional plan. A proposal under consideration will eliminate prosecutor offices from participating in grants under the Federal Victims of Crime Act.
"San Juan County provides a well-respected comprehensive program to serve victims of crime. It takes people to provide this service, and without the grant funding we will lose two positions. It would be a devastating loss to the prosecutorıs office and the victims we serve," said Prosecutor Randall K. Gaylord.
According to Gaylord, the San Juan County Prosecutorıs Office Victim Services Program costs about $90,000 per year. About $7,000 is funded by penalties paid by defendants, about $13,000 is paid by local property taxes, and about $70,000 is paid in a federal grant using penalties paid by defendants in the federal system through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA).
The Victim Services staff in the prosecutorıs office assist victims throughout the process. They provide emergency assistance to fix broken doors and locks. The victims are informed of the court process and the staff answers their questions. They assure that victims have their paperwork in on time to obtain orders of restitution and assure that they apply for compensation programs. Finally, the staff accompanies them to court and assists them with preparations of statements to the court.
"But, best of all," says Gaylord, "is that the Victim Services Office has developed good relationships with victims, police officers, school counselors, private counselors and other programs that serve victims. Prosecution-based victim services are at the center of the information flow. There is no way to replace these positions within our office. We need to keep this program going."
According to Gaylord, a regional approach to victim services is not realistic. "The appropriate region is the county. That is the place where services are provided effectively. We all know that regional service from the mainland means no service to the islands," said Gaylord.
Gaylord said that he is looking at ways to restore some of the lost funding, though he admits it wonıt be easy. Gaylord said that he will be contacting the state officials and asking that they allow the prosecutor's office to apply for VOCA funding. "We may simply need to go to the Commissioners and ask if this is a service they want to have funded."
Gaylord said that written statements from people who have been served by the Victim Services Office would be helpful in making a case for additional funding. "There are many people who are grateful for the services we provide," said Gaylord.
For more information and a copy of the Prosecutorıs comments to the Washington State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy, please call Randall K Gaylord at 360-378-4101.