ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County Commissioner’s Court has approved the district attorney’s request to apply for two federal grants that would help free up resources to help manage the “tremendous” number of abuse and sexual assault cases in the county.
“For years, and it dates back to before I took office, the district attorney’s office has been tremendouly understaffed, and really, overworked,” said Joe Martin, Angelina County DA. “What I’ve requested is to be able to apply for two grants from federal funds.”
One of those grants would provide the DA’s office with an assistant district attorney and an investigator, the other would provide the DA’s office with a victim assistance coordinator whose job would be to act as a liaison for the district attorney’s office.
“We process a tremendous amount of child sexual cases, and most of those are against young girls or children; a tremendous amount of domestic violence ” Martin explained. “Once the charge reaches felony level, it means the harm was great, or it was from a repeat offender. And those cases are difficult to prosecute; they take a lot of time, you need to be able to stay in contact with your victims, and that’s what victim assistance coordinator does.”
Angelina County Commissioner’s Court approved Martin’s request to apply for the grants. The next step for his office will be to file his application, which must go through the Deep East Texas Council of Governments. DETCOG will approve the grant in full, in part, or not at all.
“It won’t be any obligation on the part of the county until those grant applications are accepted,” said Martin. “Both of those grants require the county to county to contribute: one is 29 percent, the other is 20 percent, which basically would be a little bit more than the amount of the benefits for those salaried positions.”
If approved by DETCOG, the grants would go into effect by the end of 2019, and would require renewal every year.
“The good thing about that is our county pays out money to the federal government. That enables us to bring some of that money that we pay to the federal government back to us to benefit our citizens.”