Department of Justice Rejected Original Grant Renewal Application Because of Ampersand in Form
Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging the agency to give full and fair consideration to a grant application by the Schuylkill Women in Crisis which was originally rejected due to the use of an ampersand in the grant application document. Schuylkill Women in Crisis has helped victims of domestic violence in Northeastern Pennsylvania for thirty years and has received a grant from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to serve these victims for the last decade. This year’s renewal application was originally rejected due to the use of an ampersand in the form.
“This is about fundamental fairness,” Senator Casey said. “Schuylkill Women in Crisis has a long record of aiding victims of domestic violence and it’s critical that work continue. I’m urging the Department of Justice to work through these technical issues and give full consideration to this grant application.”
Schuylkill Women in Crisis’s executive director, Sarah T. Casey [no relation] said, “I thank Senator Casey for advocating with the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women to reconsider their decision to reject Schuylkill County’s application for Violence Against Women funding without review.” She said that “OVW’s decision unfairly sets back progress that has taken years to achieve in addressing violence against women. Furthermore, their reason for doing so – the use of an unprohibited ampersand in the title of an application document – is an example of the type of bureaucratic response to violence against women that the Violence Against Women Act was enacted, in part, to overcome.”
The Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders (Arrest Program) encourages state, local, and tribal governments and state, local, and tribal courts to treat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as serious violations of criminal law requiring coordination with nonprofit, nongovernmental victim advocates and representatives from the criminal justice system. This program challenges the whole community to communicate, identify problems, and share ideas that will result in new responses and the application of best practices to enhance victim safety and offender accountability.
The text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:
Ms. Bea Hanson
U.S. Department Of Justice
Office on Violence Against Women
145 North Street, NE, Suite 10W.121
Washington, District of Columbia 20530
Dear Ms. Hanson:
It is my understanding that Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the Schuylkill Women in Crisis, submitted a renewal application for their Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program Grant. The purpose of this letter is to urge you to accept this submission and to give full and fair consideration to their proposal.
It is my understanding that this application was submitted on time, but was rejected due to the use of an ampersand. As it has been explained to me, the guidelines for this grant submission did not ban the use of an ampersand. Furthermore, I have been told that the applicant did not receive the rejection notice in a timely manner due to health issues in his family, which caused a late re-submission.
Schuylkill Women in Crisis has relied on this grant for ten years to continue their valuable work to combat domestic violence. Given the impact of this organization, I am deeply concerned that their services may be jeopardized due to a simple clerical error. I urge you to take swift action to ensure that this grant is given appropriate considerations for renewal.
Thank you in advance for the consideration of my views. I respectfully request that you keep me informed of the status of this grant application.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator