TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Diane Allen today introduced a 10-bill package that would implement numerous recommendations of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner convened the committee in February of 2015 to review existing domestic violence laws, procedures and policies, and to make recommendations for changes to the system to better protect victims of domestic violence.
Weinberg and Allen served on the panel, which recommended changes in an array of areas including education, training, resources for victims and adjudication and treatment of offenders. The legislative package would satisfy a third of those recommendations. Also serving on the panel were Assemblyman Troy Singleton and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, as well as judges, advocates, representatives of academia, legal practitioners representing both victims and those charged with acts of domestic violence, and representatives of the New Jersey State Bar Association. The court is in the process of reviewing the panel’s report.
“We know that domestic violence is a crime that has a far-reaching effect on victims but also their families so ensuring we have the most effective system in place for protecting residents is critical,” said Senator Weinberg. “We worked together to examine the entire system and, while there are areas that are working, there is also a need to better ensure that we are processing these cases as effectively as possible while also protecting victims of domestic violence,” said Senator Weinberg. “The bills would strengthen domestic violence training for law enforcement and court officials, improve resources for victims and their families and treatment for offenders. I want to thank the Chief Justice for putting together this Ad Hoc Committee made up of advocates, officers of the court, academia and others and all of the committee for the important work they did.”
“Domestic violence is one of the greatest threats to women, children and families, and is among the most difficult challenges for our legal system to address effectively,” said Allen. “As a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence, it was encouraging to see the dedication with which so many people worked to improve the process of handling domestic violence cases from start to finish. This package of legislation represents our continuing effort as a state to better serve victims, protect our children and improve the process of investigating and working to resolve these sensitive cases.”
The legislative package would satisfy 11 recommendations of the panel, and are as follows:
- Recommendations 13 & 14: Legislation requiring training for law enforcement officers and assistant county prosecutors concerning handling of domestic violence cases.
- Recommendation 16: Senate Resolution urging New Jersey Supreme Court to require training on domestic violence issues as part of continuing education requirements for certified matrimonial attorneys.
- Recommendation 17: Establishes mandatory domestic violence training for municipal prosecutors.
- Recommendation 18: Legislation establishing standards for Batters’ Intervention Programs (BIP) in domestic violence cases.
- Recommendation 20: Establishes “Monica’s Law” creating a domestic violence risk assessment pilot program.
- Recommendation 8: Legislation establishing a Statewide “Peace: A Learned Solution Program (PALS).”
- Recommendation 10: Senate Resolution urging New Jersey Supreme Court and Attorney General to revise their jointly-created County Domestic Violence Working Groups to add additional members and responsibilities.
- Recommendation 9: Legislation requiring uniform response procedures for all domestic crisis teams established or participated in by law enforcement agencies, and strengthens Statewide supervision over teams.
- Recommendation 10: Senate Resolution urging the New Jersey Supreme Court to create Technology Task Force within Supreme Court’s State Domestic Violence Working Group.
- Recommendation 12: Establishes identical levels of domestic violence training for judges and judicial personnel.