Ohio Attorney General Approves Grant to Help Crime Victims

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved funding Tuesday for five Ohio hospitals to create trauma recovery centers for victims of violent crimes. The hospitals are located in Cincinnati, Columbus, Springfield and two in Cleveland.

The plan comes after a year of research which included trips to California, the only other state with a similar plan. Jill Del Greco, the public information officer for DeWine’s office, said that Ohio received a significant increase in federal funding from the Victims of Crime Act in 2015. After analyzing state medical facilities, DeWine decided that too many victims of violent crime were not getting proper treatment.

Attorney General Mike DeWine held a press conference Tuesday announcing the plan. Speakers included DeWine, OSU Wexner Medical Center CEO Sheldon Retchin and sexual assault survivor Heather Renae Andrews.

“Sometimes quite candidly they [victims] just don’t know where to look for help,” DeWine said in his Tuesday news conference. “Now these victims will have access to a whole network of support before they are ever discharged from the hospital.”

It is not clear how the hospitals will use the money, but Del Greco said most of the money will go towards paying staff Advocates, counselors who act as aids for the victims, and creating programs to raise public awareness.

Goal of the programs

  • To provide proper care for victims of a violent crime. DeWine said hospitals should be more than just a place for physical treatment. He invited sexual-assault survivor Heather Renae Andrews to discuss how she could have benefitted from a program like this. “I felt like I was the only one who thought my case was top priority,” she said. “At times I was not able to leave my house. I don’t feel as if I received the help I needed to heal.”
  • Eventually extend the network across the state. Del Greco said that the attorney general hopes this will be the beginning of a long process to help trauma victims. Although there is no timetable for additional funding, Del Greco did call this announcement “phase one.”

Why wasn’t southeastern Ohio granted any funds in “phase one”?

  • Area hospitals may have failed to apply for the grants. Del Greco said hospitals had to apply to be considered and crime statistics were used in deciding which hospitals would be awarded.
  • Southeastern Ohio has a lower violent crime rate than the rest of the state according to Athens City Police Captain Ralph Harvey. Of those crimes, many happen on Ohio University’s campus. Ohio, however, has implemented a program knows as SAP: the Survivor Advocacy program. This program helps match victims of violent crime with a counselor to help the victim readjust to daily life. Since students automatically qualify for this program the state could have seen this as a deterrent for an already less-populated area.

Listen to attorney general DeWine’s entire press conference here