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AG Greg Zoeller, Verizon Wireless launch Hope Card program

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Verizon Wireless launched a statewide Hope Card program to help law enforcement quickly identify and take action against those who violate protective orders.

Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims often obtain civil protection orders or restraining orders to help shield themselves and their children from any further contact or harm by their abuser. However, Zoeller said a victim must carry their multi-page court orders to show police if the perpetrator is in violation.

“Through this new statewide program, law enforcement will be able to use a victim’s wallet-sized Hope Card to obtain an immediate snapshot of the protective order,” Zoeller said. “Ultimately, this will save the victim critical time and allow police to act more quickly against the abuser. Thanks to help from Verizon Wireless, we can better protect Indiana’s vulnerable and give law enforcement a new tool to respond more quickly to protective order violations.”

With the assistance of a $30,000 grant from HopeLine from Verizon, Indiana is the third state in the nation to launch the Hope Card program and the first state to rely solely on private grants for funding. The Hope Cards will feature victim information and data on the abuser including their photo, sex, race, date of birth, height, weight and identifying marks.

“Hope Cards will ease the burden of victims who are attempting to rebuild their lives,” said Michelle Gilbert, Verizon Wireless public relations manager-Indiana/Kentucky/Michigan Region. “As we continue to shed light on domestic violence issues, we hope to salvage Hoosier families and help them get the protection they went to court to secure.”

More than 75 victim advocates and other groups who help domestic violence victims across the state have already received training to help qualified applicants obtain the cards.

Zoeller said Hope Cards will be free to those who apply and meet minimum criteria set by the state – which could be as many as 10,000 Hoosiers. Only those under protective orders for a year or longer for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, will be eligible to participate in the program.

Verizon has been funding innovative programs like this one across the country through its phone recycling program, which gives consumers a way to help prevent domestic violence by donating their no-longer-used wireless devices and accessories.

HopeLine from Verizon turns used phones into support for domestic violence survivors. HopeLine collects phones, batteries and accessories − in any condition from any carrier − that consumers are no longer using. The devices are refurbished, sold or recycled and the proceeds are donated to domestic violence prevention and treatment organizations in the form of cash grants.

Last year, HopeLine from Verizon and the Verizon Foundation provided more than $200,000 in funding for programs across the state that have helped hundreds of families in domestic violence situations. The company also donated to Indiana shelters more than 2.7 million minutes of airtime and phones for use by domestic violence survivors. In 2011, Hoosiers donated 18,478 phones to support and put resources into the hands of survivors.

Indiana’s domestic violence network will be the front-line providers for screening applicants and applying for the cards — which are available beginning Aug. 14.

For more information, visit in.gov/attorneygeneral/hopecard.

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