TRENTON – In an effort to update and reform the state’s domestic violence laws, procedures and policies, the Senate Judiciary Committee released an expansive package of bills sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, and Senator Troy Singleton. In addition to bringing more uniformity to existing procedures, the bills would also require new domestic violence training regimens to be followed by law enforcement, some county prosecutors as well as certain judges and judicial personnel.
“Over several decades now, the often silent menace of domestic violence has left too many people scarred, battered and abused at the hands of their own family members, with these attacks often occurring inside their own homes, and with their children watching,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Victims of these crimes need to have the assurance that their cases will be heard in a forthright, professional, and non-judgmental manner, from the police first to arrive on the scene, to prosecutors and judges hearing the cases.”
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner established the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence in February 2015. The bills in this package embody a number of recommendations from the extensive report issued by the committee in June 2016, as well as reforms sought by victims’ advocates.
“Sadly, the terrible scourge of domestic violence remains all too real for many individuals who live in constant fear for their lives,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “These victims need to know there are people in authority who will hear their stories, understand their predicament, and respond accordingly. We need to be sure all our police and court officers are trained up to recognize the signs of abuse, and be able to tap any available support resources that may be needed.”
Bills included in the legislative package include the following:
· S-382 – Requires uniform response procedures for all domestic crisis teams established or participated in by law enforcement agencies, and strengthens Statewide supervision over those teams;
· S-383 – Establishes standards for Batterers’ Intervention Programs in domestic violence cases;
· S-384 – Establishes certain requirements for domestic violence training for certain judges and judicial personnel;
· S-385 – Requires training for law enforcement officers and assistant county prosecutors concerning handling of domestic violence cases;
· S-386 – Establishes mandatory domestic violence training for municipal prosecutors.
All the bills were voted out of the Judiciary Committee by votes of 11-0.