Federal grants to help Missoula County respond to domestic violence
(Missoula Current) Two federal grants awarded to Missoula County will help take a bite out of domestic violence, justice court officials said Thursday.
The two grants total roughly $80,000 and were awarded by the Montana Board of Crime Control. One of those grants – a $32,000 award from the federal Violence Against Women Act, will help fund the county's Just Response program.
According to the county, the program improves the response and services for victims in the criminal justice system who have been impacted by domestic and sexual violence, stalking, sex trafficking or child abuse.
The Just Response team includes professionals from law enforcement, victim advocacy services, and child and adult protection agencies, as well as prosecutors, judges, probation officers, and mental and medical health providers.
The second grant of $47,000 also stems from the Violence Against Women Act. Justice Court Judge Alex Beal said the funding will pay for a coordinator to expand Missoula’s Domestic Violence Court, which Beal launched in 2022.
"At sentencing, I see lots of family members both of offenders and victims,” Beal said. “With the rapid resolution cases, I see more people with a look of hope and far fewer with a look of resignation.”
Beal said the dedicated domestic violence court looks to improve outcomes for survivors of domestic violence while ensuring a fair process for defendants.
Too often, he said the court process takes so long that it does further damage to both the alleged victim and alleged offender. By offering a dedicated court to such cases, the average time between arrest and resolution of a case has been cut in half over the last year.