The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) unanimously voted to cut $1.18 million from domestic violence funding on Sept. 19, explaining that the full budget will be released with further planning. This "further planning" has taken two years according to agencies that have been denied the release of additional funding twice, as promised increased funding was apparently canceled by the Pence administration last year.
The institute hinted at allegations that domestic violence organizations are not transparent or accurate enough with their budgets, as voiced by board member David Powell. Applications to the ICJI and to third party grantors require domestic violence agencies to create detailed budgets and follow strict compliance rules in order to receive any funding.
To assert otherwise is an outright lie and undermines the work these agencies are doing and attempting to do on shoestring budgets. The increased scrutiny is targeted, without cause or condition. When asked pointed questions by advocates about how detailed budgets should be, the board offered no response.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence is attempting to distance himself from this decision that ultimately happened on his watch. Shelters are already strapped for money and domestic violence survivors are wrongly being made into political pawns. Last fiscal year, nearly $350,000 in domestic violence funding was reverted back to the Indiana's general fund as directed by Pence’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These funds were already designated and approved at every level. The office has yet to answer why — other than to boost the bottom line.
The governor is touting a billion dollar state surplus by essentially hoarding and demanding the return of appropriated tax dollars, while Hoosiers in need are turned away from assistance. It is interesting that Pence can misrepresent the reality of the surplus, which is a product of his state budget, while ICJI can push domestic violence agencies to provide even more budgetary information that was not originally requested.
With domestic violence in the media spotlight due to several cases tied to NFL players and disciplinary policies, calls to crisis lines, requests for protective orders and emergency shelter stays have increased in Indiana and across the country. According to the most recent statistics from Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV), 601 people were denied shelter due to programs over capacity last fiscal year - most were abused women and children.
Governor Pence and the ICJI board decision may well have endangered even more survivors of domestic violence, and should be held accountable.