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State provides money for Victims for Justice

Posted: Friday, July 25, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) The 18-year-old support group Victims for Justice will not have to close its doors in 30 days because of a lack of state funding.

Attorney General Gregg Renkes said Thursday that the state Department of Law had found a way to give the nonprofit the $246,000 it says it needs to survive.

Victims for Justice was founded in 1985 by two women whose elderly parents and aunt were shot to death during a home invasion in Anchorage. The organization assist victims of violent crimes with everything from grief support to helping assault victims replace their smashed glasses, according to executive director Donna Garner.

Every year since 1999, the state has granted Victims for Justice about $246,000, Garner said. The money covers all the organization's operating costs and accounts for more than half its overall budget, she said.

The Department of Public Safety used to distribute the funds but this year they were given to the Department of Law.

On July 16, Garner called the Law Department to find out when and how the funds to her agency were going to be distributed. She said an administrator told her that the money was not going to be available.

Renkes explained Thursday that because of budget shortfalls, it initially looked as though the Law Department had to make a choice between working with fewer prosecutors or funding VFJ.

''I was reluctant to use the grant money for a nonprofit at the expense of prosecutors,'' he said.

Renkes said media attention about the possible funding cut did not have anything to do with his decision to ultimately fund the group.

The state will use federal money scheduled to be received in October, he said.

''A commitment by the governor made this possible,'' Renkes said, but he's not sure about funding next year.

In the future, Renkes said, ''it's going to be increasingly difficult for them to have such a large part of their funding coming from the state.''



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