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09Mar2021

Bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is introduced in Congress

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On March 8, 2021, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), introduced the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021.

The legislation authorizes funding for a variety of critical grant programs, including for victim services, prevention, training, education, enforcement, economic stability, and other programs that support survivors and help them to heal and to access justice.

VAWA’s authorization expired in 2018. Last Congress, the House passed a bipartisan reauthorization, but the Senate failed to take it up. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 is a slightly updated version of the bill passed last Congress. It addresses the challenges identified by survivors and by domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and other organizations that serve survivors.

It has been 8 years since VAWA was last authorized. The landmark legislation, enacted in 1994 under the leadership of then-Senate Judiciary Chair Joe Biden, responds to the nation’s crisis of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The VAWA improves current law in several important respects. It—

  • Enhances and expands victim services;
  • Reauthorizes grant programs to improve the criminal justice response to gender-based violence and expands allowable uses;
  • Invests in prevention;
  • Improves access to housing for victims and survivors;
  • Helps survivors gain and maintain economic independence;
  • Ends impunity for non-Native perpetrators of sexual assault, child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence, stalking, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal law enforcement officers on tribal lands;
  • Supports Communities of Color;
  • Protects victims of dating violence from firearm homicide;
  • Maintains existing protections for all survivors; and
  • Improves the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

The VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2021 is supported by the National Task Force To End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF), a group of national, tribal, state, territorial, and local organizations, advocates, and individuals that focus on the development, passage and implementation of effective public policy to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.


“After its initial enactment a quarter-century ago, VAWA—through policy reforms, interstate cooperation and grant allocation—has been pivotal in providing a national response to protecting half of the population.  Equally important, it has ushered in a seismic transformation on how society perceives violence against women.  The law has enhanced and improved the lives of girls and women, boys and men.  It has unquestionably improved the national response to these terrible crimes.”
— Subcommittee Chair Jackson Lee

“I am proud to reintroduce the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021 in support of women and all survivors who have been subjected to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The last year has demonstrated the immense needs to reauthorize and improve VAWA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in domestic violence and other crimes. As demand for services has increased, service providers have seen funding drop while caseloads skyrocket. It is imperative that Congress act now to increase funding for victims services, expand training and education for providers, and strengthen and improve VAWA programs to respond to this crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill as quickly as possible and ensuring that every survivor – women, men, and children – has the resources they need to lead safe and healthy lives free from violence and fear.”
— Chairman Nadler

“Congress must continue to aggressively combat domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking by passing our bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. VAWA has been instrumental in improving and enhancing our nation’s response to safeguarding women and children from abuse, anguish, and violence. Congress has historically reauthorized VAWA with broad, bipartisan agreement, and I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to ensure that VAWA continues to protect victims and survivors across the nation.”
— Representative Fitzpatrick

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Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York. 

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