COVID-19 Jeopardizes Critical Funding for Domestic Violence Programs
Nevada, June 2020 - As our communities and economy begin to slowly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are adding up the financial impact and bracing for more challenges personally and across our cities, counties, and the state.
Marsy’s Law for Nevada seeks to ensure the rights of crime victims are being upheld across the Silver State, and we work to support the efforts of impactful advocacy organizations and agencies which provide much-needed guidance and support for victims. Marsy’s Law for Nevada Executive Director, Lynda Tache says, “COVID-19 has taken a toll on our health and welfare, and police agencies in various cities report it has also sparked a rise in domestic violence and calls for assistance. Now more than ever, our advocacy agencies need financial support to meet the demand, and yet, COVID could result in a loss of critical funds, which we fear could result with more victims.”
Among the offices closed for weeks to reduce the spread of COVID was the Marriage License Bureau. Offices statewide normally see thousands of “happy couples” getting their licenses each month. A portion of the price for a marriage license is earmarked for domestic violence and sexual assault organizations and specific resources. Per state law 15-percent of the revenue received from the Las Vegas Marriage License Bureau, and similar offices statewide, is divided among advocacy agencies. In Clark County more than a dozen pre-approved organizations receive funds. Projected revenues had been set at $3 million dollars to be divided. Now, these funds could be reduced, putting some internal programs at risk, further impacting victims.
“On average, the ‘marriage license fund’ disperses $3.2 million annually to agencies like SafeNest for critical services such as rent, utilities, building repair, and staffing costs,” said Liz Ortenburger, SafeNest CEO. “With domestic violence rates on the rise and increased demand for services during the COVID crisis, a reduction and/or loss of income from the marriage license fund will force agencies to cut operational costs leaving victims with fewer resources and support. We need our elected leaders to step up and offer alternative funding sources to fill the gap on behalf of over 40,000 victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Nevada.”
Information about resources available and concerns as a result of COVID will be the focus of an informational effort by Marsy’s Law for Nevada in June, July, and August on our social media pages. A statewide list of RESOURCES and assistance organizations can be found on the Marsy’s Law for NV website in the RESOURCES drop-down tab.
Marsy’s Law for Nevada Guarantees Crime Victims:
• The right to receive information about their rights, and the services available to crime victims.
• Right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process.
• Right to be notified of a defendant’s impending release, and be protected from the defendant.
• Right to notice of all public proceedings in the case.
• Right to be reasonably heard, upon request, at all public proceedings regarding the case.
• Right to reasonably confer with the prosecuting agency, upon request, regarding the case.
• Right to full and timely restitution.
History of Marsy’s Law
The effort is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in California in 1983. A week later he was released pending his court proceedings and went face to face with the victim’s family, who had no idea he was out of jail. Today her family is working to secure a voice and protection for victims and their families, nationwide. Individual Marsy’s Law measures have now been approved in twelve states: California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nevada. Nearly 140-million people, or 40-percent of all Americans, now receive protected rights under Marsy’s Law.
Established in 1977, SafeNest is Nevada’s largest, most comprehensive nonprofit dedicated to ending domestic violence by focusing on five core confidential, trauma-informed services: emergency shelter, 24/7 crisis hotline, counseling, advocacy, and prevention education. SafeNest maintains the only confidential domestic violence shelter in Las Vegas; operates a 24-hour crisis hotline and a text-to-chat line; provides individual and group counseling; maintains victim advocates in the justice and law enforcement systems; and provides domestic violence education, prevention, and training programs within the Clark County community.
Marsy’s Law Media Contacts
Deborah Clayton & Kim Schofield
NV.MarsysLaw.US Facebook & Twitter
SafeNest Media Contact