Wednesday, April 27, 2011

GPS surveillance plan under review in Dutchess

Leah Feldman, Coordinator of the Universal Response to Domestic Violence, wrote the following opinion piece that was featured in the Poughkeepsie Journal on April 24, 2011.

Recent domestic violence homicides have prompted a community-wide effort to improve victim safety and offender accountability. As outlined in our October report to the Legislature, the Citizen's Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence has considered and recommended many different initiatives — including the GPS tracking of domestic violence offenders.

While GPS has been used successfully in locations other than New York, it has not been implemented in other than limited pilot projects in this state. Significant study and planning must be completed before GPS can be operational in Dutchess County. The committee is actively engaged in that task so that responsible recommendations can be made to the Legislature.

GPS can alert law enforcement agencies and victims whenever an offender enters a restricted zone. An electronic bracelet placed on the offender sends a signal to a computer allowing police to immediately contact the victim and also dispatch an officer to the location, buying a victim crucial time to find safety.

People assume that victims will enter a shelter if they are at risk. The reality is that there are obstacles for women entering shelters, and the forms of protection given by the system are limited. Under the current law, offenders are legally entitled to have bail set and work is under way to amend the law to allow a judge to consider the safety of a victim when considering bail. GPS tracking can provide constant offender monitoring when the accused is free after posting bail, thus allowing victims to be protected as they move about their lives.

On the surface, GPS surveillance seems like a no-brainer since it would help to enforce
the system's ability to protect a victim. Unfortunately, GPS monitoring is not always a cure-all, and implementation of the system takes extensive mobilization and resources from the community.

The technology itself presents loopholes that must be studied. These issues include the ability of the bracelets to detect offenders in the county's "no-service" zones. Use of GPS in more densely populated areas, where offenders may reside or work in closer proximity to victims, presents additional issues that must be understood prior to adoption of this new technology. Given the fact that use of this technology has no significant precedent in the State of New York, there are a multitude of legal and practical issues that must be identified and addressed before it can simply "happen."

Implementation of this system must address a process for training multiple law enforcement agencies and judges. It also needs to create a selection process to assure its deployment for appropriate offenders. We also must ensure that all community agencies are committed to use of the technology for the safe and effective implementation of the system.

Lastly, funding must be considered. Some of the costs included with the technology
are the bracelets themselves, the GPS servers and software, and the salaries for the people operating the computers 24/7.

We stand by our initial recommendation for GPS. Consideration, however, must be given to the multiple concerns that must be addressed before such a program is adopted. We are actively undertaking a comprehensive review to ensure that the plan can work, that it is affordable and that above all, it improves safety for victims. The committee, along with other local domestic violence organizations and representatives of the law enforcement community, is working to mobilize the community to explore and support this technology. The committee maintains constant contact with the county Legislature through its appointed liaison. Together we are actively working to change how the law and society treat domestic violence.

For the original article please visit:

Family Services is One of 23 Agencies in Nation Receiving Unique Grant


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) announced $6.9 million in awards to 23 projects in the Engaging Men in Preventing Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Grant Program (Engaging Men Grant Program).  This is the first time in the history of OVW that a grant program directly encourages men to be part of successful crime prevention efforts addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, and to become partners in creating respectful and positive relationships.

The Engaging Men Grant Program creates a unique opportunity for OVW to support public education campaigns and community organizations to encourage men and boys to work as allies with women and girls for preventing violence.

“All men play a critical role in preventing crimes against women and are important partners in our effort to address the full spectrum of these crimes,” said Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women.  “These grants and the work of the grantees will provide the framework for extending and developing these partnerships across the country.”

The funded projects include non-profit non-governmental victim services agencies; non-profit community based agencies; state domestic violence or sexual assault coalitions; an institution of higher education; a unit of local government; a tribal coalition; and a tribal non-profit victim services agency.  These awards are part of OVW’s ongoing commitment to support gender and culturally specific education on healthy relationships and strengthen existing community outreach efforts to men and boys.  

The following 23 organizations received $300,000 :

·         Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (Juneau, Alaska)
·         Korean American Family Service Center Inc. (Los Angeles)
·         Peace Over Violence (Los Angeles)
·         Howard University (Washington, D.C.)
·         Tapestri Inc. (Tucker, Ga.)
·         Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence (Boise, Idaho)
·         Maine Boys to Men (Portland, Maine)
·         Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (Augusta, Maine)
·         Boston Public Health Commission (Boston)
·         Michigan Coalition Against DV and Sexual Assault (Okemos, Mich.)
·         Family & Children’s  Service (Minneapolis)
·         Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition (St. Paul, Minn.)
·         North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Raleigh, N.C.)
·         North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services (Bismarck, N.D.)
·         Enlace Comunitario (Albuquerque, N.M.)
·         Family Services Inc. (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
·         Retreat Inc. (East Hampton, N.Y.)
·         Vera House Inc., (Syracuse, N.Y.)
·         Klamath Crisis Center (Klamath Falls, Ore.)
·         White Buffalo Calf Woman Society Inc. (Mission, S.D.)
·         Migrant Clinicians Network Inc. (Austin, Texas)
·         Migrant Health Promotion Inc. (Weslaco, Texas)
·         Refugee Women’s Alliance (Seattle)
The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, provides leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and subsequent legislation.  Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. In addition to overseeing 21 federal grant programs, OVW often undertakes initiatives in response to special needs identified by communities facing acute challenges.

More information is available at .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There's still time to register for Walk A Mile in Her Shoes!

Family Services' Crime Victims Assistance Program’s first annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event will take place this Saturday (4/30) at 1PM at Marist College!  

Everyone is invited!  Help us raise awareness and support Crime Victims. You can register as an individual or a team.  We’ve got great prizes for walkers who bring in the most sponsorships.  If you don’t have a pair of heels, don’t worry we’ve got a pair of pink flip flops for you!
For more information or to register, go to

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Monday, April 18, 2011

It’s Your Turn to Make a Difference

Don't forget...April is Child Abuse Prevention month!

Amy Cole, Supervisor of the Family Education Program
There are so many things we can all do for the kids and families in our lives. Try this: make special time for children, really listen to what they have to say, support other parents who are struggling, acknowledge that parenting is tough work, and spend time with families in you neighborhood. You can even plant a Pinwheel Garden!  Pinwheels are a sign of happy, carefree childhoods and represent Child Abuse Prevention month.  Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we all participate in some way to strengthen our communities for the sake of our children, our future.  Raising happy, healthy children is a community effort that will pay off in amazing ways.  Let’s do it right the first time instead of trying to fix it later on!

To learn more, or to get some support as a parent, here are a few resources:  Family Services Family Education Program – Amy Cole 331-5641 x223;  The Parent Helpline – 1-800-CHILDREN (244-5373) every day from 9am to 10pm, a confidential line available in English and Spanish. 
Visit or

Friday, April 15, 2011

Please Join Us at the Unity March

A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interp...Image via Wikipedia

Unity March to end domestic violence!
May 10, 2011

Domestic violence service providers in Dutchess County invite you to join us in unity.  We will take to streets of the City of Poughkeepsie to rally against domestic violence.  Please join us as we support all victim services and honor victims and survivors of domestic violence. Your commitment to join us will demonstrate our strength in numbers and dedication to ending the violence.

For more information please contact Leah Feldman, Project Coordinator, Universal Response to Domestic Violence, at 845-486-2335 or

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three cheers from the The Poughkeepsie Journal

Three cheers | The Poughkeepsie Journal |

To those working to highlight April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Dutchess County officials, members of local police departments and representatives of the Crime Victims Assistance Program and the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse hosted a news conference last week to call attention to the issue. They noted the local services available to victims.  "It shouldn't be just April that we pay special attention to this. It should be all year round," said Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson.

To raise money for victims, the Crime Victims Assistance Program is hosting an April 30 event called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes." The old saying, "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in her shoes," is the inspiration for this international walk, which asks men to literally walk one mile in women's high-heeled shoes. High heels can be very uncomfortable, and Old Navy is donating dolled-up flip-flops for guys who don't want to feel the pain. For these guys, they might finally get a true understanding of the bumper sticker that says, "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did except backward and in high heels."

The entire community, however, is welcome to participate. To sign up for the event, go to or call call Sharon Doane at the Family Services' Crime Victims Assistance Program, 845-452-1110, Ext. 3127.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Free Workshop!

The Dutchess County Coalition of Nonprofits Presents
"Strengthening Government & Nonprofit Relationships in New York State: Lessons Learned from Deb Heinrich, Nonprofit Liaison to the Governor of Connecticut"

May 13th, 2011  10:00am to 12:00pm
Locust Grove Estate
Cost: FREE
Register now at:

As State and County governments are forced to make cuts in staffing and services, our citizens and our public officials are turning increasingly to non-profit organizations to fill the gap.  To do so efficiently and effectively, government and the non-profit sector must communicate and collaborate as much as possible.  However, in NY State and Dutchess County, there is little or no mechanism for this two-way dialog and cooperation.  This presentation will present one possible model to bring government and the non-profits together to benefit our common constituency.

Together, we are going to tackle some important issues facing our sector and hopefully gain some important insight as to how we can encourage our State and Local leaders to make a strong statement about the nonprofit sector as they have in Connecticut.