State Reps. Tina Davis, John Galloway, Wendy Ullman and Perry Warren, all D-Bucks, announced today that two Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency grants totaling $120,000 are being awarded in Bucks County.
According to the lawmakers, $100,000 is being awarded to Network of Victim Assistance and $20,000 will go to Bucks County Commissioners Public Defender Capital Case Indigent Defense.
PCCD granted $100,000 for a two-year term to NOVA so it could train and support male forensic interviewers so child victims would have a choice of the gender of their interviewer.
“Child victims of abuse are among the most vulnerable groups in our society,” Davis said. “I’m glad that NOVA’s vital work with child victims of abuse will be supported and enhanced by this grant funding.”
“Children can be hesitant about speaking with a person of another gender,” Ullman said. “Being able to have an interviewer of the gender of their choice will make it easier for child victims to speak about their abuse to a stranger and so ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The grant money will also be used for counselors who will offer evidence-based therapeutic mental health services for children who do not initially disclose at the forensic interview and their non-offending caregivers.
Finally, the money will help fund Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center and NOVA staff who provide supportive services to ensure the smooth implementation of this project.
PCCD awarded $20,000 to the Bucks County Commissioners to assist paying for a psychologist and a mitigation specialist who will support the defense of two qualifying pending capital cases.
“It is the bedrock principle of our criminal justice system that every defendant receives a fair trial,” Warren said. “This grant will help maintain that principle and ensure that every citizen has access to full legal representation.”
Mitigation specialists provide the defense team with professional analysis of the case, supportive evidence and a detailed, documented history of the defendant.
“Capital cases are the most serious cases in our court system,” Galloway said. “We must ensure that defendants in capital cases receive a strong defense to give them a fair chance in our court system.”