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Drop in Funding Domestic Abuse Services Raises Safety Concerns in North Carolina

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Facing a detriment of resources, nonprofit organizations providing support and safety for abuse survivors worry many may be left to fend for themselves.

Four nonprofit organizations in Western North Carolina–Helpmate, Our Voice, Pisgah Legal Services and the Mediation Center–will not be receiving a combined $2 million in state grant funding over the next two years, impacting the agencies’ abilities to serve more than 4,000 survivors of abuse, reports the Citizen Times. The decline in money can be traced to changes in how certain federal crimes have been adjudicated. Normally, fines and fees from those prosecutions are deposited into a fund created by the Victims of Crime Act. That money is known as VOCA funds, and it makes up a large proportion of the budgets of nonprofits that work with survivors of domestic violence. But instead of settling cases through traditional trials, many federal cases have been settled as “deferred” or “non-prosecution agreements.”

While defendants in those cases may still be required to pay fines and fees, their payments don’t go into the VOCA fund because they are not convicted of crimes, resulting in a lack of resources needed to provide shelter and support for victims fleeing abuse. The service providers emphasize that even though VOCA funding has decreased, there are other funding sources that can fill the gaps and ensure domestic violence survivors have access to services. According to data from the N.C. Council for Women and the N.C. Attorney General’s office, there is a direct correlation between the availability of domestic violence shelter beds and homicide rates. Jim Barrett, the executive director of Pisgah Legal Services, said one possible source could be the state’s budget surplus. Over the next two years, North Carolina anticipates collecting more than $6 billion extra in tax revenue than previously expected.

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Source: The Crime Report

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