Evaluation of the STOP Formula Grants to Combat Violence Against Women: The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (1998 Report)

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Document date: June 16, 1998
Released online: June 16, 1998

Press Release | PDF of the Full Report

Highlights of the Report

In FY 1998, 54 of the 56 states and territories eligible for STOP funds received their awards from OJP, totaling more that $130 million, within three months of the congressional appropriation. The timely notification of awards has been coupled with technical support for preparation of state plans, which will be submitted in May of 1998 prior to release of the funds for subgrant awards.

OJP has supported conferences; regional meetings; regular communication with states via telephone, memoranda, and clearinghouse services; resource material development and dissemination; and training. Technical assistance is provided to help grantees achieve compliance with Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) statutory requirements and goals and develop state plans, and to disseminate promising practices for subgrantees. Organizations providing the technical assistance include: the American Prosecutors Research Institute, The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Police Executive Research Forum, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence's STOP T.A. Project, two components of the Battered Women's Justice Project, and the University of Minnesota. Information on these resources and how to contact them is provided in Chapter 2.

Through February 9, 1998, states reported 2,473 STOP subgrant awards in the first three years (FY 1995/96/97). These awards totaled $91,875,206. The reported subgrants account for 92 percent of the FY 1995 federal funds available for subgrant awards, about half of the FY 1996 funds, and less than 10 percent of the FY 1997 funds.

STOP grants can be used for seven purpose areas (types of activity) defined by the VAWA. The large majority of the projects are providing direct services to victims, alone or in combination with other activities. Training for law enforcement and prosecution is the focus of nearly a quarter of the projects. Between 10 and 15 percent of the subgrantees are developing policies and protocols or supporting specialized units within law enforcement or prosecution agencies.

  • Over 800 subgrants for underserved victims. Project profiles indicate that these 828 subgrants went primarily to private, nonprofit victim service agencies (60 percent. The majority serve domestic violence victims only (54 percent) or in combination with victims of sexual assault (22 percent); 10 percent focus exclusively on sexual assault. Many projects are being developed to serve victims in rural areas (60 percent). Virtually all subgrantees focused on reaching underserved populations (89 percent) reported their intent to expand direct services for victims. Three in five subgrantees (61 percent) expected to offer women victims of violence advocacy services to help them get through justice systems, and 55 percent expected to offer counseling.

  • Over 800 subgrants for building community capacity to combat violence against women. These 820 projects reported activities intended to improve interagency communication, coordination, and collaboration to create whole communities that work together to combat violence against women. However, cross-sector involvement in these projects appears limited. Only 8 percent have funding allocated to all three major funding categories (law enforcement, prosecution, and victim services) and under half involve three or more participant groups.

  • Most subgrants focus on domestic violence. About half the funds addressed domestic violence alone, and another 24 percent addressed domestic violence in combination with sexual assault. Less than 1 percent addressed stalking alone, but stalking was included with other crime types in more than 10 percent of the subgrants.

Over 40 percent of reported STOP funds have gone for victim services: 89 percent of the states have allocated at least 25 percent of their funds for victim services. Over 20 percent, but less than 25 percent, has gone to law enforcement and prosecution. Just over half the states have allocated at least 25 percent of their funds to these categories.

Over 90 percent of the subgrantees required to provide matching funds did so. The 1,458 FY 1996/97 projects that reported this information provided $11,198,952 in matching funds.

The 1994 Safe Homes for Women Act requires that a civil protection order issued by a court of one state or Indian tribe shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of other states and tribes, and be enforced as if it were the order of the enforcing authority as long as the due process requirements of the issuing authority were met. While not a mandate directed specifically at STOP grants, over 10 percent of the reported subgrants are working on full faith and credit issues.

States were required, as a condition of receiving STOP funding, to certify that victims not bear the costs of prosecuting offenders in sexual assault or domestic violence cases, and all states have submitted this certification. An Urban Institute survey of states on fee waiver practices found that basic coverage of fees for evidence collection is provided by almost all states, but that coverage of "optional" diagnostic or forensic examinations, medical treatment, and ambulance services is provided by only a portion of the states. Problem areas include requirements to report a sexual assault, payment mechanisms and the financial or other burdens they may impose, and the timeliness and accessibility of payment or reimbursement. Only four states indicated that domestic violence victims are ever required to pay criminal justice processing fees.

The Institute for Law and Justice (ILJ) is evaluating STOP grants to law enforcement and prosecution agencies for training, special units, and development of new policies and procedures. ILJ's national survey of agencies that set police training standards found that 42 states set a minimum level of domestic violence training for police recruits. The amount of training required ranged from 2 to 30 hours with a median of 8 to 9 hours of required training. Related police training requirements include those for rape (38 states, median of 4 hours) and stalking (12 states, median of 1-2 hours). A parallel ILJ survey of state prosecutor agencies and organizations found that 46 of 47 states that responded provide training in domestic violence. Two legislative reviews prepared by ILJ, "Domestic Violence Legislation Affecting Police and Prosecutor Responsibilities in the United States" and "Review of State Sexual Assault Laws, 1997," summarize the status of state legislation and reform.

The National Center for State Courts collected information about current data collection and communication system activities from a survey of all state court administrators to determine the states' capacities to comply with the full faith and credit provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, a follow-up telephone survey of states operating or planning a protection order registry, and a database of information available in state criminal history records developed by the Justice Research and Statistical Association. They found that 24 states have a protection order registry in some stage of operation and 17 states are developing one (these figures now are likely higher). Most of the 41 registries are or will be statewide.

The American Bar Association is evaluating the impact of STOP grants on victim service programs housed in criminal justice agencies that have been funded to provide direct victim services, and/or to work with private nonprofit victim service agencies as a team to provide services to victims. Exploratory interviews with 24 programs found that the FY 1995 subgrantees typically added a small component to existing programs, which often had multi- faceted activities (e.g., they ran shelters, hotlines, and acted as advocates for victims).

The Tribal Law and Policy Program (TLPP) at the University of Arizona is conducting a two- year impact evaluation. Preliminary results indicate that the simple fact of receiving STOP funding has raised community as well as tribal leadership awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence, while grant activities have promoted various approaches to confronting the problem of domestic violence in Indian communities.

The National Institute of Justice supports research on stalking in domestic violence cases and the effectiveness of various antistalking efforts; evaluations of victim advocacy, police domestic violence training, and a felony domestic violence court; domestic violence in multi-ethnic rural communities; medical records as legal evidence in domestic violence cases; and a national study of domestic violence and sexual assault databases in the states.

As part of the national evaluation of the STOP program, the Urban Institute prepared an Evaluation Guidebook to help subgrantees document their accomplishments and to help state STOP coordinators as they fund statewide evaluations or support evaluations by individual subgrantees. The first six chapters introduce the reader to issues in doing evaluations, working with evaluators, using the OJP data on subgrant awards, and choosing an evaluation design. The remaining chapters offer resources to measure and evaluate a program's activities and impact.

OJP needs to help states meet the requirement that they report subgrantee award information. This means expediting completion of the reporting forms and their electronic versions, providing technical assistance in reporting procedures, monitoring compliance with reporting requirements, and taking steps to enforce reporting for states that fail to meet specific criteria of completeness and timeliness.

OJP should continue to support the ongoing technical assistance activities of the STOP T.A. Project, especially the regional meetings for state administrators.

States should develop updated strategic plans for allocating STOP funds, using a coordinated planning process that includes representatives of law enforcement, prosecution, victim services, and victim advocates as well as representatives of agencies administering other VAWA funding programs. Issues that OJP should require states to address in their updated plans include: (1) plans for how to institutionalize the gains achieved with STOP funds when STOP ends; (2) plans to maximize the overall impact of funding related to violence against women in the state by coordinating or doing joint planning with offices administering other relevant federal funds (e.g., Byrne grants, Victims of Crime Act grants, Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization Grants, Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies) or state funds; (3) plans to share achievements of existing subgrantees with other communities throughout the state, to minimize activities that keep "reinventing the same wheel" and capitalize on successes; and (4) evidence that the state is using its experience over the past three years of STOP funding to think strategically about how best to use its STOP funding. Without such planning, funding patterns and practices may diverge from legislative goals for STOP.

The delays in spending STOP funds occur at the state level. They are at odds with the legislative requirement to spend the funds within two years and have delayed the potential impact of the STOP program. States should implement faster award mechanisms. These might be accomplished by working on strategic plans and RFPs in advance of state awards and sending notice of future plans to potential applicants in advance of the application information.

OJP needs to monitor the quality and timeliness of the information states submit about the subgrants they have awarded. This may require establishing procedures and schedules for timely submission of subgrant information, assuring access to effective modes of electronic transmission, and providing training to state administrators in the procedures.

One reason given for the lower percentage of STOP funds going to these agencies has been that the agencies themselves do not make many applications. States need to develop procedures for communicating the availability of funds to these agencies and encouraging participation in the STOP program.

OJP and the state STOP administrators should encourage or require evaluation of the outcomes and impact of subgrant activities so that the public investment in VAWA generates knowledge about effective strategies for combating violence against women.

OJP regulations should specify that reimbursement for forensic medical examinations not require a conviction (the victim cannot always ensure conviction even by cooperating with prosecution), and states should be asked to monitor and enforce compliance with this regulation.

OJP should identify states in which there is evidence of long delays in reimbursement for the cost of forensic examinations, denial of reimbursement for questionable reasons, and/or payment of less than the full cost charged by hospitals with the consequence that women or their insurance companies must pay the balance. OJP should develop procedures to increase compliance with VAWA requirements to waive fees for victims.

In addition, regulations should describe desirable areas for additional coverage, such as extending payment coverage for sexual assault victims to the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases resulting from the attack.

Topics/Tags: | Crime/Justice | Race/Ethnicity/Gender

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