Bennet Backs Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

In a push to keep up the effort to prevent crimes against women, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has signed on as a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA).

“The law enforcement and education programs in this bill are just as critical now as they were when this law was first written,” Bennet said. “This is important to me, not only as a U.S. Senator, but as the father of three young daughters. All women deserve to be safe from harm’s way, and reauthorizing this landmark law will help ensure these critical protections continue to exist.”

VAWA advances efforts to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes and to non-profit organizations that supply essential services for victims and survivors. The act was originally enacted in 1994 as Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

Key points and successes:

  • Formula grant program and a 25% set-aside in the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders program. These changes are set up in ways that ensure continued intensive response to domestic violence and other offenses.
  • Provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel to identify and manage high-risk offenders and connecting high-risk victims to crisis intervention services.
  • Improves responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal VAWA has improved the criminal justice system’s ability to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. Following on this historic legislation, every state has enacted laws making stalking a crime and states have strengthened criminal rape statutes.
  • VAWA programs have provided victims with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. It has addressed the unique barriers faced by victims in rural communities, elderly victims, and those with disabilities.
  • VAWA has successfully encouraged communities to coordinate their responses to violence against women by bringing together victim advocates, law enforcement, the courts, health care professionals, and leaders within faith communities.
  • Since VAWA was originally enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51%. More victims are coming forward and receiving lifesaving services to help them move from crisis to stability.

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.