TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland) that would establish a pilot program in Ocean County to monitor domestic violence offenders cleared the Senate Budget Committee today.
“As we have seen, allowing domestic violence offenders to be released from jail without further supervision can have tragic results,” said Sweeney. “This pilot program will be an important starting point in determining how we can further protect the victims of domestic violence.”
The bill, S2910, also known as “Lisa’s Law” would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County for electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders and notification to victims. The program would apply to defendants charged with or convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order. The determination about whether to place an offender in the program would be made by the court. The court would be allowed to hold a hearing to consider the likelihood that the defendant’s participation in electronic monitoring would deter him or her from injuring the victim.
A defendant ordered by the court to be placed on electronic monitoring could be ordered to pay the costs and expenses related to electronic monitoring and victim notification or a portion of the costs and expenses, based on the defendant’s ability to pay. In addition, the defendant would be assessed a monitoring fee of $250. The court could waive the fee in cases of extreme financial hardship.
Under the pilot program, when a defendant is convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order the court could, in addition to or in lieu of any other disposition: (1) sentence the defendant to electronic monitoring with victim notification; or (2) sentence the defendant to probation or a suspension of sentence and, as a condition of such probation or suspension, order electronic monitoring with victim notification. The bill would further provide that, when a defendant charged with contempt of a domestic violence order is released from custody before trial on bail or personal recognizance, the court could order electronic monitoring as a condition of release.
The bill is named in remembrance of Letizia Zindell of Toms River, who was murdered on August 13, 2009, by her former fiancée, Frank Frisco, who later killed himself. The murder occurred a day after he was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Ms. Zindell had filed against him.
The legislation now moves to the Senate floor.
Senate President Steve Sweeney represents the Third Legislative District, which includes portions of Gloucester and Cumberland counties and all of Salem County. First elected to the New Jersey Senate in 2001, Senator Sweeney has been reelected four times. He was chosen by the Democratic Majority to lead the Senate in the 214th Legislature in 2009, and took the oath as Senate President on January 12, 2010. Senate President Sweeney entered public service after his daughter was born with Down syndrome. He was horrified at the manner in which individuals with disabilities were treated and set out to make a difference not just in his daughter’s life, but in lives of those in his community. Follow Senate President Sweeney on Twitter @njsenatepres.