N.J. domestic violence offenders should be monitored

Two New Jersey lawmakers from opposite sides of the aisle have vowed to reintroduce the legislation known as Lisa's Law – and many lives could be saved as a result of their resolve.

The measure, which would provide an important safety net for victims of domestic abuse, apparently fell victim to Chris Christie's mad pursuit of the White House when the governor used the power of the pocket veto to crush it.

The bipartisan bill, passed unanimously by both the Assembly and the Senate, was named in memory of Letizia "Lisa" Zindell, who was beaten and strangled in a 2009 attack by her former fiancé, Frank Fisco.

The encounter came one day after Fisco was released from jail for violating a restraining order the 30-year-old Toms River woman had filed against him.

N.J. law would better protect victims

Assemblymen Ronald Dancer, R-Jackson, and Troy Singleton, D-Palmyra, envision Lisa's Law as a way to protect potential victims by establishing a pilot program in Ocean County that would electronically monitor domestic violence offenders, and notify those victims if the attacker is in their vicinity.

Both sponsors say the technology is readily available, and that the creation of a four-year pilot program would give ample time to study its effectiveness before the initiative goes statewide.

The statistics on domestic abuse are astonishing and infuriating.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds. One in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. 

In 2013, Womanspace, which offers counseling and support services throughout Mercer County when a woman has experienced domestic violence and sexual assault, told NBC Television that one of these acts is committed every seven minutes in New Jersey.

In one of five cases for women and one in seven cases for men, that violence has been severe. In Lisa Zindell's case, it was fatal.

"Lisa did everything she could to try to protect herself, but our current law wasn't enough," Dancer told NJ 101.5 radio in an e-mail statement in October.

Way too often, restraining orders aren't worth the paper they're written on. One horrifying analysis found such orders are violated 40 percent of the time.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation similar to the law Singleton and Dancer have proposed. The fact that New Jersey isn't one of them is unacceptable, particularly in light of the governor's oft-repeated - but ultimately empty - words of support for victims of domestic violence.

Neither men nor women should have to live in fear for their lives when they leave an abusive relationship. The protections built into Lisa's Law would go a long way toward easing that fear, and we're strongly behind the bipartisan push to see it enacted.


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