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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2002

First Lady Urges Illinoisans to Observe Domestic Violence Month

SPRINGFIELD— First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today affirmed Illinois' commitment to victims of domestic violence and renewed the state's efforts to combat domestic violence especially during October, which is designated as “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month”.

Despite a number of cuts made to the State of Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2003 budget, at Governor Ryan’s direction, funding in the Department of Human Services for domestic violence was not reduced. Since Fiscal Year 1999, funding for the Department of Human Services domestic violence programs has increased by 96%, from $11.2 million in FY ’99 to $22 million in FY ’03.

Under Governor Ryan’s direction DHS was able to increase the number of programs and services at existing sites and stabilize the network of programs. Currently DHS funds 67 programs for victims and their children. Between FY ’99 and FY ’02 the number of victims DHS has been able to help has increased by more than 30-thousand from 103,281 to 134,221.

“Domestic violence is a serious problem that crosses all cultural, racial, religious and economic boundaries,” Mrs. Ryan said. “I urge all Illinois citizens to use this month to reflect, participate in local ceremonies and work together to try and put an end to this violence in our society.”

Since 1999, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority has directed more than $31 million in grant funds for programs that address domestic violence in Illinois. These programs include providing victim services, victim advocacy and training. Among the programs is the implementation of domestic violence protocols for police, prosecutors, victim service providers and others in the community to help establish a coordinated response to domestic violence.

According to the Illinois State Police “Crime in Illinois 2001” statistics domestic violence related crimes accounted for nearly 10 percent of all reported offenses. There were 125,510 reported domestic violence offenses reported in Illinois in 2001, up from the 2000 total of 108,792, two thirds of reported offenses were assault and battery.

“For years domestic violence crimes were under-reported, however that has changed,” said Illinois State Police Director Sam Nolen. “Under Governor Ryan’s administration our officers are more focused than ever before on investigating domestic related crimes. There is still much work to do, but more and more domestic abusers are being arrested and prosecuted, which is a positive development in our society.”

In 1995, as Secretary of State, Governor Ryan worked with the Illinois Coalition for the Prevention of Violence to create the Prevent Violence license plate. Proceeds from the sale and renewal of the plate, depicting a dove with an olive branch, go to fund the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority. Since the Prevent Violence license plate was created it has raised more than $6 million to provide grants for programs to promote violence prevention throughout Illinois.

Governor Ryan also established the Illinois Employers Awareness and Assistance Program for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The program was developed by a Department of Commerce and Community Affairs Task Force, that was made up of members of the business community, employee organizations and domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organizations to develop and promote a model domestic violence and sexual assault employee awareness and assistance policy.

Illinois is the first state to adopt this model policy for businesses. The intent is to offer guidance to Illinois employers who choose to develop policies and procedures regarding domestic violence and sexual assault as it relates to their employees and the workplace. The policy can be found on DCCA’s webpage at: www.commerce.state.il.us/bus/domes.html.



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