Report on domestic violence monitoring still not finished
TRENTON — More than six months has lapsed since Gov. Chris Christie signed a law requiring the Attorney General’s Office to study the feasibility of electronically monitoring certain domestic violence offenders, but the office still has not completed a report detailing its findings.
The lack of progress on the issue is frustrating advocates and lawmakers who contend the technology exists to both monitor offenders and notify victims if they come within certain proximity. They want the technology deployed to protect domestic violence victims.
“I believe the governor should be embarrassed, quite frankly, because it’s a public safety issue,” Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, said Tuesday. “Here we are on Women’s Equality Day, and we’re still no closer to putting in place a law that could save someone’s life.”
Singleton sponsored legislation, named Lisa’s Law, to create a pilot program in Ocean County to electronically monitor certain domestic violence offenders that would alert victims if the offender came within a certain proximity to them.
The measure was named after Letizia “Lisa” Zindell, a Toms River woman who was murdered in 2009 by her former fiancé, Frank Frisco, the day after he was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Zindell had filed against him. Frisco later killed himself.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support but was conditionally vetoed by Christie, who argued the feasibility of the proposed monitoring and alert program needed to be studied.
His veto recommendation — which the Legislature voted to concur with — ordered the Attorney General’s Office to create a working group to study the issue and report back within 120 days.
That deadline passed more than three months ago, but no report has been issued.
Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the report is near completion and will be delivered to the Governor’s Office soon.
“We anticipate getting a final report over to the Governor’s Office very soon and that it will be released publicly soon after that,” Aseltine said.
He declined to comment on the cause of the delay or the contents of the report.
Singleton said he recently was briefed by the Attorney General’s Office about the report and was told the holdup largely involved the victim notification aspect.
“They believe that’s a little more complicated,” Singleton said, adding that he’s confident the technology is available because it’s being used in other states.
Tara DeLorme, a friend of Zindell’s and the founder of Lisa’s Light Foundation, a nonprofit group that was formed after Zindell’s murder to advocate for a New Jersey monitoring and alert program, said supporters are growing frustrated by the apparent limbo.
“It was enough of a blow to have to wait for a study of something we know already exists … Now to see the 120-day deadline come and go, it’s incredibly frustrating,” she said. “We’re concerned (Christie’s) entire purpose was to say ‘yes I signed a bill and now I’m done.’ ”
DeLorme said her group wants the pilot program to be implemented quickly after the Attorney General’s study is completed, but she wasn’t sure if the bill will need to be approved by the Legislature a second time.
Singleton said he believes legislative action will be required again, but he promised to work with his co-sponsor, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, to try to fast-track it through the Assembly and Senate.
“We’ll be very aggressive,” he said. “If the governor’s recommendations are consistent with the legislation’s intent, we’ll make every effort to move it quickly.”