Hey gang! I hope you have enjoyed the posts on my blog. I try to give you a sense of my take on current affairs and more substantive policy issues. I believe that our government works best when those given the responsibility to represent all of us remain in close contact with those who sent us to do the job. This week is a little twist. My wife, Megan, asked if she could send a message out to you guys about the importance of eradicating domestic violence. Her story is both poignant and personal. Let us know what you think. Here’s Megan’s take:
Every week Troy sends an email to your inbox discussing some of what he’s working on or topics facing our state and nation. This week I successfully convinced Troy to let me take over the blog for the week. So, this week it’s really a more of a Megan Talk then Troy Talk. My name is Megan Singleton and I’m Troy’s wife. I love listening to Troy talk about what legislation he is currently researching and new ideas he has come up with for trying to improve the lives of his “bosses.” It is not uncommon for me to see him at the table on Saturday night working through ideas and researching. We both share a love of politics and meaningful debate. One topic that is extremely important to both of us is domestic violence. If you follow Troy in the newspaper, on Twitter, Facebook or even read the weekly blog, you have probably heard about the work he has done on a proposal called, Lisa’s Law. However, most of you don’t know that Letizia (Lisa) Zindell was a friend of mine.
I met Lisa during my freshman year of college at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) when we were both attempting to join the same sorority. Lisa was really beautiful and after having one discussion with her I realized she was just as beautiful on the inside. She was so vibrant and full of life. She was also a victim of domestic violence. On August 13, 2009 Lisa was murdered by her former fiancé. I was devastated. Having lost such a bright and wonderful person with a lifetime of potential still ahead was tough for me and our TCNJ family. As soon as Troy became an Assemblyman in 2011 I asked him to sign onto a bill, introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, which was named after Lisa. I had been made aware of the proposal by the advocacy of the Lisa’s Light Foundation and its fantastic leader, Tara Delorme. The bill had been stagnant and I knew that if Troy would commit to this issue he would do everything in his power to get it done. In honor of Lisa and in effort to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again, the legislation would have created a pilot program in Ocean County to monitor repeat domestic violence offenders.
Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the proposal, re-writing it from a pilot program to a study by the Attorney General to investigate the technology and whether it was available to law enforcement. Though this was not what either Assemblyman Dancer or Troy wanted, the legislature acted quickly and affirmed the new version in order to keep the process moving forward. On January 17, 2014 the proposal was signed into law. It amazed me when I learned that the Attorney General needed 120 days to see if this practice is feasible. If law enforcement is able to track sex offenders and others on probation, why would this technology be unavailable to track domestic violence offenders? It has now been well over 180+ days since this bill was signed into law. When the bill sponsors asked for the findings, they were told the Attorney General’s office needed to make sure “all its I’s were dotted and its T’s were crossed.” Another, (75) days later and there is still no word from the Governor’s office or the Attorney General’s Office on the findings of their analysis.
One in every four women is a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime yet domestic violence is one of the most chronically under reported crimes in our country. According to statistics from the National Coalition of Domestic, “Approximately 20% of the 1.5 million people who experience intimate partner violence annually obtain civil protection orders. Approximately one-half of the orders obtained by women against intimate partners who physically assaulted them were violated. More than two-thirds of the restraining orders against intimate partners who raped or stalked the victim were violated.” What are women to do? Lisa did everything she was supposed to do in regards to her former fiancé. She called the police and reported violations of the restraining order. She was staying with friends in an effort to avoid him but yet he found her anyway. She was murdered a day after he was released from jail for violating the restraining order again that she had out against him. No family should have to go through the devastation that the Zindell’s have gone through the last several years.
Technology is making our lives better in so many ways. The police have the technology available to alert a victim when they are coming close to breaking a restraining order. Similarly to how police use ankle monitors to track the whereabouts of criminals or those suspected of a crime. According to national crime data, an act of domestic violence occurs every 9 to 15 seconds in the United States. The clock is ticking on New Jersey’s ability to turn victims of domestic violence into survivors. New Jersey must act now! That’s may take. What’s yours?