Domestic Violence Task Force Claims State Department of Health Withheld Funds

By Paul Boger | Published 11 Oct 2013 02:34pm | comments
A report released by the Mississippi Domestic Violence Task Force found that a state agency withheld nearly $600,000 earmarked to support victims of domestic violence. 
Members of the Mississippi Domestic Violence Task Force are calling for the creation of a permanent commission that would help victims of domestic violence. 
The recommendation comes after a report was released, yesterday, claiming the state Department of Health withheld nearly $600,000 in appropriations towards domestic violence programs.
Sandy Middleton is the Chair of the Task Force. She believes $600,000 could have been used to help a number of Mississippians suffering from domestic violence.
"How much difference can $600,000 make to victims?" asked Middleton. "$600,000 could have single-handedly funded a domestic violence shelter or a rape crisis center for a year. $600,000 could fund a dozen sexual assault nurse examiners in the rural parts of the state. $600,000 could fund a human trafficking agency to protect our children from being snatched off the streets."
However, officials at the state department of health believe there hasn't been any wrong doing or misuse of funds.
Deputy State Health Officer Mike Lucius said his department was merely following the letter of the law.
"We have been working with the task force in trying to change the rules, in how we go about allocating these funds to these centers." said Lucius. The state code is section 9321-107 paragraph 6, [it] states '$50,000 can be issued to a center out of the fund.' So, we have some limitation as to what can be put out there."
According to officials, a Commission Against Interpersonal Violence would streamline funding for programs that help victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and that a bill creating the commission will most likely appear before the legislature during the next session.


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