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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  • EarlRichards

    Schwarzenegger and the Republican state senators are bad news. It is the government’s duty to protect citizens and to ensure their well-being. Schwarzenegger and the Republican state senators are not doing this. The funding priority for battered women’s shelters (BWS) should be the same as for prisons, because human life is at risk. Prisons keep the criminals and the murderers in, and BWS’s keep the good people in, and the criminals and the murderers out. The Governor’s illegal budget cuts, with the backing of big oil (Chevron Corp. of San Ramon), are very dangerous for women and children, who are victims of domestic violence, and it is sub-human. During a recession, with its higher unemployment, government funding for BWS’s should be increased, not eliminated. Obviously, this budget picks-on the most vulnerable, and it endangers children. If a battered wife is murdered in front of a closed-down BWS, then, Schwarzenegger, his oil industry tyrants and the Republican state senators should be charged with first-degree murder.

  • Juan Ramirez

    This is not what happened at all. Just ask any insiders. Senators Leno and Steinberg are pissed off at Yee for not voting for the budget cuts and making them look bad. This was payback pure and simple. Just ask them why Yee’s name was stripped from the bill in the wee hours of the last night of the deliberations. Do some more reporting.

  • EarlRichards

    The Republicans state senators should have all voted “yes” for the domestic violence shelter bill, to save a battered woman’s life. Saving a battered woman’s life, should more important, then, petty politics.