BEND, OR -- A Deschutes County non-profit will lose out on tens of thousands in state grant money due to a disagreement over the definition of "crime victim." Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) represent state foster children in court proceedings. But the Criminal Justice Commission says CASA failed to show how the organization helps victims.
Jenna App, Executive Director of CASA for Central Oregon, brought the issue to Deschutes County Commissioners Monday, "I just want to express my concern that now CASA of Central Oregon will miss out on this funding opportunity; it was $56,000 over the next two years. In Deschutes County, our numbers of children entering care this year are up 150% from last year. [Director of Deschutes County Community Justice] Ken Hales had said 'we can't hold up our $1.7 grant on just $56,000. That doesn't make any sense for us; that's a small amount of money.' And, I tried to explain to him, from our perspective, that's a huge amount of money."
The county is seeking $1.7 million in state money originally set aside to build a new prison, but will instead go to victim and offender services through the state Justice Reinvestment Program (JRP). Deschutes County Administrator Tom Anderson says the Local Public Safety Coordinating Committee (LPSCC) didn't want to risk the majority of the funding package over a disagreement over CASA. "There was some differing opinions on the definition of the appropriate clientele and the way that the program serves that clientele locally. It was acknowledged that there were probably some state discussions, some state politics, frankly, that were going on," he told Commissioners, Monday.
Anderson also noted that others tried to help, "John Hummel, our District Attorney, made an impassioned case for CASA, that he disagreed with the proposal to amend our JRP application. But, all things considered, the LPSCC as a whole voted to file the amended application removing CASA."