Iowa victim services in danger of losing funding - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa victim services in danger of losing funding

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - On Wednesday, Attorney General Tom Miller asked the Iowa legislature to maintain funding for crime victim programs as a matter of justice and safety.

He wrote, "These programs give indispensable, life-saving services, including helping victims and kids with safety plans, finding safe places to stay, guiding victims through the criminal justice system, and helping Iowans cope with the unforeseen costs of being victims of violent crime."

Funding for services like the Rape Victim Advocacy Program has been there for some time. But like a bucket of water, Executive Director Karla Miller says it's slowly been drying up. "A few years ago, the actual line item in the budget was removed."

Miller says the state will need to pour $4 million back into that bucket, if victim services like hers are to survive. She says they're especially vital in tough economic times.

"The increase for services goes up in many areas, and ours is certainly one of those," she told us.

If the funding is not replenished, 2 people would need to be cut from Miller's 8-person staff, which already serves a four-county area in Eastern Iowa.

"It does decrease a lot of the other things we do in terms of education and prevention work."

Beth Barnhill of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault says domestic abuse programs would also suffer.

"The programs that are most likely to be hit are the rural programs where there's simply not the resources in the local areas to make up for the loss in state funding."

Barnhill also referenced sexual assault allegations that emerged last year at the University of Iowa.

The resulting investigation showed that the alleged victim was not given enough information about finding a rape advocate.

"It's ironic that that recommendation was made. At the same time, it looks to us like victims all over the state of Iowa may lose that right to advocates."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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