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United Way partner JALA dramatically increases ability to assist victims of crime

February 8, 2018

By Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., United Way Funded Partner

Thanks to the leadership of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and her team, the State of Florida has increased its ability to provide civil assistance to victims of crime.  In the Northeast Florida area, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. (JALA) a primary source for economic and social justice, and the oldest civil legal aid law firm in Florida, is now able to provide substantial and extensive civil legal services to survivors of sexual violence, stalking or cyberstalking, those needing protection from violations of court orders and victims of family or domestic violence in general.

The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), administered by the Florida Attorney General, provides for civil legal services to victims of domestic violence.

As a provider of free legal services in the Jacksonville area, JALA provides essential services including representation at hearings for injunctions for protection against domestic violence, timesharing of children and support, and temporary use and possession of the household.  JALA’s services are also essential for empowering survivors to be safe and regain their independence from their violent intimate partners. JALA also provides legal services to survivors of sexual violence, stalking and cyberstalking or those needing protection from a violation of a court order.

Duval county’s incidence of domestic violence exceeds the state average. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the domestic violence reports for Duval in 2016 alone included: 12 homicides, 40 forcible sex crimes, 6,918 assaults, and 112 cases of stalking and other threats/intimidation, for a total of 7,082 incidents — with another 1,218 in the surrounding counties of Clay and Nassau.  More than 3,000 injunctions for protection are filed in Duval yearly.

Our entire community is affected as a result of domestic violence dynamics. While the need for emergency legal services far outweighs the available resources for domestic violence survivors, VOCA funding now allows JALA to close that gap.