CHARLESTON -– The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has received an $815,000 grant that will allow its Administrative Office to work with the State Police, non-profit West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and state agencies to improve the way the court system handles domestic violence protective orders.
The Supreme Court has now received more than $3.8 million in federal grants for programs to improve the court system since Robin Jean Davis became Chief Justice in January 2005.
"This grant will continue our efforts to improve the lives of all West Virginians who come in contact with the court system," Chief Justice Davis said. "I am especially pleased that we will now have the resources to improve the way we respond to allegations of domestic violence. This money will help us make a real difference in the lives of victims and, hopefully, prevent recurrences of violence."
The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women is under the Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program. The grant will:
* Fund the development and implementation of a statewide registry for domestic violence protective orders that will allow orders to be available to all West Virginia law enforcement officers the same day they are issued.
* Allow court system employees to submit 100 percent of domestic violence protective order data to the National Crime Information Center so law enforcement officers nationwide have quick access to it.
* Fund four regional summits starting next summer and one followup statewide summit in the summer of 2009 to encourage community and agency collaboration on the enforcement of protective orders.
* Fund the creation of a statewide Firearms Enforcement Task Force that will encourage a coordinated community response to the enforcement of protective orders, especially the prohibition on respondents possessing firearms while protective orders are in effect. The task force will develop policies and protocols.
* Allow at least 10 Family Court judges and at least 10 magistrates to attend national Office on Violence Against Women training.
* Develop an improved method of tracking statistics on domestic violence cases to be incorporated into the Court's Unified Judicial Application computer system.
The grant application was written by the Supreme Court's Director of Court Services Angela D. Saunders and Counsel for Children and Families Nikki Tennis along with Tonia Thomas from the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Other planners included Lisa Tackett, Director of Family Court Services for the Supreme Court; Matthew Arrowood, Deputy Director of Court Services; Lora Maynard, Coordinator of STOP Violence Against Women in the state's Division of Criminal Justice Services; and L. Larry Nelson, Director of the West Virginia Regional Community Policing Institute.