|WASHINGTON – Each year the federal government spends $1 billion for domestic violence programs. But according to a report released today, the agencies entrusted with managing these funds fail to provide appropriate oversight. As a result, millions of dollars in taxpayer money are frittered away on programs that are ineffective and often harmful to victims.
The report, “$1 Billion for DV Programs that Misuse Taxpayer Money and Place Victims at Risk,” was released by RADAR – Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting – a group working to help domestic violence victims.
The RADAR report highlights state pro-arrest laws. Even though a recent Harvard University study found mandatory arrest increases partner homicides by 54%, the Violence Against Women Act spends $65 million annually to promote these dangerous policies.
The report summarizes audits by the federal Government Accountability Office, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Management and Budget. These groups have documented widespread misconduct by the Office of Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice in its administration of Violence Against Women Act funds.
Numerous audits reveal grant expenditures that were questionable, excessive, and unauthorized. A 2006 probe concluded the agency did “not conform to federal regulations and their own policies.”
Last September Cindy Lou Shores, executive director of the Tribal Nations and Friends Domestic Violence Coalition in Ponca City, OK, was arrested and charged with embezzling $106,000 from a federal domestic violence grant. Shores now faces up to 15 years in prison.
“The many examples of fraud in this report reveal a contempt for the American taxpayer, and represent an outrageous betrayal of the victims of violence who need our help,” notes Elizabeth Crawford, director of the Domestic Violence Counseling Center in Charleston, WV. “Citizens should demand programs that help, not harm, victims of violence.”
The RADAR report may be viewed in its entirety here.