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RAINN Adovcates SASP Funding in Letter to Attorney General

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August 28, 2006 — RAINN recently sent the following letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging the fiscal support of the Sexual Assault Services Program.

Below the letter from RAINN is a letter from Jessica McSparron-Bien, the Sexual Assault Program and Policy Coordinator of North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota.

For more information about the Sexual Assault Services Program, download this fact sheet (PDF, 50KB).

August 23, 2006

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Gonzales:

On behalf of RAINN, which is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization, I want to commend you for the important role you played in the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005, which President Bush signed into law in January. RAINN and its 1,102 affiliates across the nation are especially grateful for your support for the enactment of a significant new program, the Sexual Assault Services Program, which VAWA 2005 authorized. We respectfully request that you support fully funding SASP during the fiscal year 2008 appropriations cycle.

Rape crisis centers across the United States work tremendously hard to ensure that sexual assault victims throughout the nation receive the services they so desperately need, and research suggests that victims who receive such services are more likely to report the crime to police. The reality, however, is that rape crisis centers' ability to serve the needs of all victims of sexual assault — both female and male, young and old — has historically been hampered by a significant lack of resources. Also, more victims of sexual assault are coming forward for help than ever before, which has further increased the demand for such services.

In developing the final version of VAWA 2005, Congress and the White House correctly recognized that, when the original version of VAWA passed in 1994 and was reauthorized in 2000, the legislation omitted to include resources specifically designated for direct services for sexual assault victims. The inclusion of the Sexual Assault Services Program, or SASP, in VAWA 2005 corrected that earlier omission by creating an entirely new, direct and dedicated funding stream for rape crisis centers throughout the nation to provide direct services to sexual violence survivors. While this program's authorization is a huge step forward, SASP's implementation is simply not possible unless the Administration and Congress also support an annual appropriation for the program.

We do appreciate that the Department must weigh many competing priorities in its budget submission to OMB each year; however, a sexual assault occurs every 2.5 minutes in the United States. We sincerely hope that you will support fully funding the Sexual Assault Services Program at $50 million for FY 2008 so that victims of sexual violence can receive the counseling and advocacy they so desperately need as they navigate the medical,
investigative, prosecutorial and court systems.

Sincerely,

Scott Berkowitz
President

August 29, 2006

The Honorable Alberto Gonzales
Attorney General
U. S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Gonzales,

On behalf of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Assault in North Dakota, I want to commend you for the important role you played in the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005, which President Bush signed into law in January. Our Coalition is especially grateful for your support for the enactment of a significant new program, the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), which VAWA 2005 authorized. We respectfully request that you support fully funding SASP during the fiscal year 2008 appropriations cycle.

The staff at the Coalition and rape crisis centers throughout North Dakota work tremendously hard to ensure that sexual assault victims receive the services they so desperately need; and research suggests that victims who receive such services are more likely to report the crime to police. The reality, however, is that our ability to serve the needs of all victims of sexual assault — both female and male, young and old — has historically been hampered by a significant lack of resources. Also, more victims of sexual assault are coming forward for help than ever before, which has further increased the demand for such services. The inclusion of the SASP in VAWA 2005 corrected the previous omission of a stream of direct service funding for rape crisis centers throughout the nation. While the program's authorization in January is a huge step forward, SASP's implementation is simply not possible unless the Administration and Congress also support an annual appropriation for the program.

We do appreciate that the Department must weigh many competing priorities in its budget submission to OMB each year; however, in just the first 6 months of 2006 over 550 new victims of sexual assault have sought services in North Dakota. We sincerely hope that you will support fully funding the Sexual Assault Services Program at $50 million for FY 2008 so that survivors of sexual violence can receive the counseling and advocacy they so desperately need as they navigate the medical, criminal justice, and court systems.

Sincerely,

Jessica McSparron-Bien,
Sexual Assault Program and Policy Coordinator


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