TRENTON – In an effort to enhance support provided to crime victims and trauma survivors, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein which would establish the Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA) within the Department of Law and Public Safety.
“For too long, survivors have been forced to navigate a complex system in order to receive adequate resources and aid. The purpose of VIVA would be to advance a unified strategy by bringing together victim-related, violence intervention, and prevention services currently dispersed throughout the Department,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), Chair of the Committee. “This legislation would create an office to advocate for victims and further build community trust in law enforcement.”
The bill, S-3086, would authorize VIVA to provide services, administer and monitor programs, and serve as a resource center for other agencies and local communities. The division would oversee and coordinate all matters related to violence intervention, prevention, victim assistance, and services performed by or on behalf of the Attorney General.
“The Division would also play a lead role with respect to survivors of domestic and sexual violence by centralizing the Department’s support for this population and advancing policies on their behalf,” continued Greenstein.
In addition, the bill would transfer the existing Victims of Crime Compensation Office to the VIVA, and establish three new offices, Office of Trial and Criminal Justice Process, Office of Victim Support and Assistance, and Office of Violence Intervention and Prevention within the division for the purposes of centralizing the State’s response to crime victims and trauma survivors.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also advanced three bills, S-1000, S-1516, S-1809, to provide further support to domestic violence survivors and their loved ones.
The bill was voted out of committee by a vote of 12-0.