Domestic violence prevention in California is in trouble. Six shelters have closed throughout the state since Governor Schwarzenegger eliminated the entire $20.4 million budget for The California Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program, which provided funding for 94 agencies statewide. Agencies that remain open do so only at the cost of layoffs, office closures, and a drastic reduction in services.

Funding for domestic violence has been reduced in many of the fifty states, but only California has completely removed all state funding for prevention.

Senator Leland Yee jumped to restore the atrocity with a bill that would restore $16.3 million of the programs funding by taking money from alternative fuels and vehicle technology. The bill died on the Senate floor late Friday night, just shy of the three votes needed for the 2/3 majority.

Lee blames the loss on “petty Sacramento Politics,” but plans to reintroduce a measure when lawmakers convene for a special session in January.

The closings put undue pressure on remaining shelters, particularly private non-profits which do not receive state funds. Tina Figuer, former director of a shelter in Madera County, says that closing shelters forces women to rely rescue missions. Since eighty three percent of domestic violence related homicides were perpetrated by a husband or a boyfriend, women may be reluctant to seek help from largely male populated missions.

Eve Sheedy, director of domestic violence policy at the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, beleives the cuts will actually increase costs for the state government. Sheedy told reporters “if you take the cost of arresting, trying, incarcerating someone for a serious physical crime or homicide you compare that to what these shelters were getting, its an unbelievable cost benefit”

Information on where we go from here, and how to help remaining shelters can be found through the DVC Partnership’s website

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