The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) plays a key role in the work that we, as Advocates, perform every day protecting people threatened by domestic and sexual violence. Reauthorization of VAWA is currently under debate in Congress, but efforts to renew it are facing difficulties. We are pleased to see that Colorado Senator Michael Bennett has signed on as a cosponsor for reauthorization of VAWA. His press release not only points out the key successes of VAWA as originally enacted, but also provides a list of the following improvements to VAWA under consideration as part of the reauthorization bill:
- Stresses the need to effectively respond to sexual assault crimes and recognizes the continuing crisis of inadequate reporting, enforcement, and services for victims of sexual assault by adding new purpose areas and a 20% set-aside in the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (STOP) state communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Native American spouses and dating partners in tribal country.
- Strengthens housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs.
- Promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes.
- Provides LGBT victims of domestic violence with greater access to support services.
- Focuses on the programs that have been most successful, consolidates programs and reduces specific authorization levels for more efficient budgeting.