News Release

 

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000 countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

For Immediate Release

April 22, 1999

County Executive Approves Funds to Help Domestic,Violence Victims


Poughkeepsie, NY - Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has recently approved $142,500 in funds and another $142,500 in in-kind services for the Domestic Abuse Response Team (DAR
T). The funding and staff resources address both the human services as well as the criminal justice elements of   domestic violence.

"I was pleased that last year the legislature accepted my 1998 executive budget that included funds to start the DART program, and I'm even more pleased that we are now continuing it for a second year," Steinhaus said. "Last year the DART program handled a significant number of cases which indicates a need to continue the program."

DART is a multi-agency approach designed to hold offenders accountable and to assist victims with the legal, emotional and safety issues surrounding domestic violence. Its goals are to enhance the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence and improve the ability to monitor compliance of defendants. Through the DART program, responsibility of monitoring defendants is placed on the justice system rather than on the victim. Through the increased accountability of batterers, DART hopes to reduce the case attrition and increase safety for women. Finally, DART increases the chances that victims of domestic violence will pursue prosecution by demonstrating the system's immediate and coordinated response.

"We wanted to make sure women felt secure when asking for help. DART was designed to provide a coordinated and comprehensive response to domestic violence in the City of Poughkeepsie," said Steinhaus. "Ultimately we would like to replicate this program in jurisdictions around the county."

Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady stated that "The coordinated response by all the participating agencies has helped us tremendously in insuring greater offender accountability while at the same time more effectively dealing with the safety of the victim and her numerous needs."

The DART initiative began by training the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department since they are the first to come in contact with domestic violence situations. Training was provided by the Office of Probation and Community Corrections, the District Attorney's Office, the Grace Smith House, the YWCA Battered Women's Services and the county provided Program Coordinator. Following the training, police protocol was modified to include a stipulation that a phone call to Battered Women's Services would occur in every domestic violence incident. Through this program Battered Women's Services received 140 calls from the City of Poughkeepsie police in 1998.

Following an arrest, the Outreach Worker from the District Attorney's Office contacts the victim and acts as a liaison with the prosecutor and probation officer. This provides the court with immediate and comprehensive information. To date, the DART Outreach Worker has successfully contacted I I I victims pre-arraignment. This is notable in that arraignment generally takes place within several hours of the arrest. The Battered Women's Services provided follow-up services to 114 victims and the DART probation officer interviewed 193 defendants since DART inception.

"In a modem and civil society there should be no reason for a woman to be afraid," Steinhaus noted. "Plans to implement the DART model in other areas of the county will be explored this year. We also anticipate that this project will continue as a model in other counties."

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