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LEAA Rape Funding Review
by Mary Ann Largen
Feminist Alliance Against Rape Newsletter Sep/Oct 1974

While rape crisis centers and other rape-related projects have been started on "shoe string" budgets the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that continuance of these projects and expansion of their services is dependent upon the ability to obtain financial support. It has also become clear that local, state, federal and private sources of funding are extremely limited. The only major source of funding at this time is through the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) -- the funding branch of the Justice Department.

LEAA is presently under a triple federal investigation focusing on its hiring practices and its relations with consultant firms. The on-going NOW National Rape Task Force investigation of LEAA spending on rape-related projects has also uncovered information pointing to a bias against private women's groups, inefficient and ineffective rape reduction programs, and possible misuse of appropriated funds.

When questioned as to the results of our investigation to date, LEAA immediately responded by pointing to its discretionary grant of $238,000 to the Center for Women's Policy Studies (Washington, D.C.) as proof that they do not "demonstrate bias". While they did not deal with the question of misuse of funds, they defensively pointed to the fact that their discretionary (available to private organizations) funds were only 15% of their total budget and that responsibility for the distribution of these funds rests with state and local governments.

Relative to these points it should be noted that while the latter two are accurate, it is also accurate to state that at present there is no existing criteria or guidelines for the distribution of LEAA funds for rape projects, recipients of the funds, or content of the projects. Regulations do not exist on who gets the money or on how it is spent.

It should also be noted that the Center for Women's Policy Studies' grant referred to includes the two primarily-male sub-grantee firms ,of Blackstone Associates and Legal Resources, Inc. It is also of interest to feminist groups that part of the Center's 10% matching funds were donated by Playboy Foundation.

While the Rape Task Force investigation has not yet concluded, a partial summary of the findings to date discloses the following:
Portland, Oregon: $116,000 allocated to establish a rape reduction program in the office of the District Attorney. The project consists of one administrator and two counselors to provide a 24-hour telephone service to answer questions from victims whose cases are going to trial. Victims who do not report or whose cases do not come to trial do not utilize the service. The stated goal of public education does not yet have a program. Likewise, the stated goal of personnel to accompany the victim to court has not yet materialized.
New York, N.Y.: With an average yearly allocation of $25 million, $2 million has recently been allocated the Mayor's Task Force on Rape. At a recent planning meeting of LEAA officials and the Mayor, Rape Coalition representatives were refused admittance to the discussions, constituting a possible violation of the right of private organizations to be present at LEAA state and regional planning meetings (1973 amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968).
Denver, Colorado: Highly publicized project to gather data on the incidence of rape in order to develop model prevention programs. While seeking victim cooperation and input, the only non-law enforcement-related consultant utilized in the project is MITRE Corporation.

In addition to the "private organizational" grant awarded to the Center for Women's Policy Studies, a second grant has been awarded MITRE Corporation. The project consists of developing a model of the crime of rape and the responses of the criminal justice and health agencies to that crime. The stated purpose is to determine where the problems lie and where equipment improvement or development may help in the areas of pre¬vention of rape, detection, identification and apprehension of rapists.

It is to be noted that MITRE Corporation, like other LEAA grantees, has made every effort to obtain and utilize the data, services, and publications of feminist anti¬rape groups while at the same time refusing to acknowledge them professionally or reim¬burse them according to a professional status.

As of this writing, several women's groups have applied for LEAA funding and have found that they cannot obtain it as an autonomous group. Proposals must be submit¬ted jointly with the local police department or hospital. Reports from groups which have undertaken this type of coalition effort indicate that problems are inherent in this ar¬rangement: 1) the institution generally receive 80-90% of the fundinq, while private groups get "nickels and dimes", 2) the institutional view of women's groups as being "non-professionals" leads to institutional control of the projects, 3) the high motiva¬tion of women's groups is matched with an equal amount of the institutional personnel, who lack motivation and dedication, 4) funding obtained for women's groups generally provides for only one or two paid positions, with the remaining staff duties still de¬pendent upon volunteers; and 5) the emphasis on law enforcement is contrary to the goals and/or policies of many women's groups. Women's groups, however, have no direct access but are dependent upon the interest of state and local distributors of the funds.

It is the NOW Rape Task Force view that the LEAA lack of criteria and guide¬lines for funding of rape reduction programs has produced programs with an unrealistic view of the crime, its prevention and control, an ineffective and sometimes inappropriate use of federal funds, and a disregard of the expertise of women's groups 'on the rape issue.

' In recognition of these problems, Senator Lloyd Benston (Tex.) and Congress¬woman Barbara Jordan (Tex.) have introduced Resolutions in both the Senate and House (October 7, 1974) requesting LEAA to "conduct a conference composed of representatives from Congress, LEAA, women's groups and law enforcement officials to discuss the inci¬dence of rape, the manner in which it is prevented and controlled and the victims proper¬ly treated, in order to improve law enforcement programs. LEAA should report to the Congress on actions that should and may be taken by Congress or LEAA" as a result of that conference.

As rape continues to become a "popular" national issue, LEAA funding for rape¬related projects increases. Until, and if, the National Center for the Prevention anri Control of Rape (under NIMH) becomes a reality, LEAA will also continue to control all federal funding on rape projects. Therefore. in addition to our criticisms of LEAA, it is hoped that we will be able to present a package of concrete, viable proposals for LEAA projects and procedures.