U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaked on Aug. 22, 2023, at the start of a meeting with Native representatives in Anchorage. Next to him is Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who had invited the attorney general to the state. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Crime victims from Indigenous communities will be getting some much needed help from the recent funding provided by the U.S. Justice Department to the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program.
According to the Justice Department, hundreds of awards have been granted since the Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside program was launched five years ago, providing services to thousands of crime victims.
More than 88,000 victims have received direct services since 2020, according to the DOJ, and have helped victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, arson, burglary, elder abuse, fraud, theft and kidnapping, as well as sex and labor trafficking.
The Department of Justice did not provide the full list of awardees for the program in the announcement release on Aug. 23, but highlighted that, among the awardees were 67 Alaska Native communities, which received nearly $22 million of the total funding.
“The Justice Department recognizes that Alaska Native families and communities have endured persistently high levels of violence and that women and girls have borne the brunt of that violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press release. “We are here today to reaffirm the Justice Department’s commitment to working across the federal government and with Alaska Native communities to meet these urgent challenges.”
According to the Justice Department, grant managers from Office of Victims Crime’s (OVC) Tribal Division visited Alaska and spent 32 days on the ground meeting with more than two dozen Alaska village grant applicants and helped with such tasks as creating program designs and project budgeting.
“The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)’s Tribal Division has worked closely with Tribal leaders and Tribal advocates to make sure this program is as responsive as possible to the needs of Tribes,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
Alaska Native communities received additional funding from the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) in the sum of $774,790 as part of the Sexual Assault Services Formula Grant Program (SASP) awards for Alaska Native communities.
“While we face significant challenges as a nation in preventing and addressing sexual assault, the increased resources for these programs through SASP funds underscore our dedication to centering the voices of survivors and enhancing services and support,” OVW Director Rosie Hidalgo said in a press release.
The SASP funding was part of the OVW funding of more than $51.8 million to provide victims of sexual assault with services in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“It is critically important that all victims of sexual assault are able to access support and safety. Research shows that the need for that support is substantial across our nation: more than half of women and nearly one-third of men experience sexual violence in their lifetimes, which is a truly staggering number,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a press release.
“This significant release of SASP funds reflects our unwavering resolve to combat sexual assault,” Gupta said. “It represents our dedication to supporting rape crisis centers and other organizations that provide trauma-informed services and counseling, training advocates and ensuring that every survivor receives assistance tailored to their unique needs.”
“We’re not just investing in services; we’re investing in dignity, healing and justice for every survivor,” she added.
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