Federal Money Helps Cuyahoga County Better Serve Domestic Violence Victims

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Domestic violence cases often go nowhere because the victims give up on a legal process that can be lengthy and burdensome, said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.And they might have personal challenges that get in the way – for example, if a victim lacks transportation, she might not show up to testify in court.

"In a typical case, a prosecutor isn’t even going to know about that," FitzGerald said."So if they have a court date and the victim doesn’t show up, they might say, well, this victim doesn’t care about this anymore."

FitzGerald said improving communication between the victim, prosecutors, police and social workers can get more cases resolved. A pilot program to do that on the far East and West sides of Cleveland has had good results, he said. This grant will expand those services to more central parts of the city.

The US Justice Department is funding these sorts of programs as a way to reduce murders of domestic violence victims.

"You take a case that may be relatively run-of-the-mill in terms of domestic violence cases, but then it escalates because the situation is never resolved," FitzGerald explained.

Another effort underway to help victims is the Family Justice Center, a one-stop-shop for services downtown slated to open by the end of the year.

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