The full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nelson Albano, Celeste Riley, Gabriela M. Mosquera and Connie Wagner to boost statewide efforts to combat domestic violence and abuse.
The bill (A-3472) would create a 16-member task force to review current law, practices and procedures in New Jersey in order to create more effective and efficient policies related to domestic violence and abuse issues.
“Domestic violence transcends all socio-economic, cultural and religious backgrounds so we need a coordinated effort to help combat it efficiently,” said Albano (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “This comprehensive strategy will help us determine what works, what falls short, and where we need to concentrate our efforts to improve our domestic violence response.”
“A quarter of all women in this country have reported experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime. This begs greater attention from all levels of government,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem. “By bringing together all of our relevant stakeholders, we can create a more comprehensive response to tackle this persistent problem.
The sponsors noted that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“To effectively help victims of domestic violence going forward, we have to take an assessment of what is working and not working for the families in New Jersey,” said Mosquera (D-Camden and Gloucester). “Domestic violence programs and services are located around the state, in every county to provide support to victims and their families. However, our laws must also be effective in order to support them along the way.”
“In reviewing our current statutes, the task force will consider appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of all state domestic violence policies, procedures and laws,” said Wagner. “Learning what makes a difference in the lives of domestic violence victims will help us to possibly provide additional support to families and improve services.”
The task force would include the commissioners of the departments of Children and Families, Human Services and Corrections, the Attorney General, the Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Public Defender, or their designees; four members of the legislature, no more than two of whom shall be from the same party; and six public members, two of whom shall be appointed by the Senate President, two of whom shall be appointed by the Assembly Speaker and two of whom shall be appointed by the Governor.
This bill directs the task force to submit a report to the legislature no later than 18 months after its organization with recommendations for legislation and strategies to create more effective and efficient policies related to domestic violence and abuse issues.
The measure passed the house 76-0. It now awaits consideration in the Senate.