Merski, Harkins: More than $1 million awarded to strengthen victim supports, address student mental health, reduce recidivism

ERIE, June 8 – Erie County is receiving $1.02 million in funding to improve probation services, strengthen services for sexual assault victims, and respond to student mental health needs, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today.

The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will ensure county services and supports have access to the staff, training and other resources needed for good outcomes.

“Today’s funding is going to help us do more for victims of sexual assault by funding a Sexual Assault Response Team,” Merski said. “A swift team response means better professional support for those who have been traumatized by vicious crimes and heartier enforcement through training that improves investigation and prosecution of offenders.

“Some of the funding will also help us better address student mental health needs by funding a mental health liaison to connect students needing support to counseling. Those services are critical for students who are in troubled or in crisis and may not know where to turn.”

Harkins said, “In addition to strengthening resources for assault victims and student mental health needs, today’s funding will help improve county probation services and reduce recidivism. Some of those dollars will support key step-down, supervisory services that fill a gap between incarceration and probation. That means better supervision for offenders returning to the community and drug treatment programs that can make a big difference.”

The specific funding includes:

  • $463,030 in Continuing County Adult Probation and Parole Grant funds to improve delivery of probation and parole services.

  • $250,000 in Intermediate Punishment Treatment Funds for electronic monitoring, drug and alcohol treatment, and drug testing equipment to support transitional step-down programs.

  • $158,872 in Federal STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant funding to the Crime Victim Center of Erie County for Erie County SART development.

  • $150,000 in State Violence and Delinquency Prevention Funds to the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5 for a mental health preventionist serving Erie, Warren and Crawford counties.