Vows to Work to Build Consensus to Protect Domestic Abuse Victims
Assemblyman Troy Singleton expressed disappointment today over Gov. Christie's conditional veto of his legislation to protect victims of domestic abuse, but vowed to work to build consensus to ensure that the law ultimately gets implemented.
The bill (A-321), known as "Lisa's Law," would help protect victims of domestic violence by allowing courts to order electronic monitoring of certain offenders. The bill is named after Letizia Zindell of Toms River who was murdered in 2009 by her former fiancé, Frank Frisco who later killed himself. The murder occurred a day after he was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Zindell had filed against him.
Christie's changes put the provisions of the bill on hold while the Attorney General conducts a thorough evaluation of the availability of the technology needed to create and implement the monitoring system and reports back in no more than 120 days.
"I'm disappointed and a bit surprised at the Governor's delay in this bill given that roughly 15-18 other states have instituted similar laws," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "However, I'm committed to working together to build consensus so that we can see this law implemented as swiftly as possible. Letizia Zindell's tragic death shows more must be done to protect victims of domestic abuse from a similar fate."
Specifically, the bill, if implemented would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County for electronic monitoring of certain domestic violence offenders and notification to the victim when that offender is within a certain proximity. As part of the bill, the state Attorney General would be required to submit a report to the governor and the Legislature at the end of each year of the pilot program, evaluating the program and recommending whether it should be continued statewide.
The pilot program would apply to defendants charged with or convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order. In determining whether to place a defendant on electronic monitoring, the court may hold a hearing to consider the likelihood that the defendant's participation in such monitoring would deter the defendant from injuring the victim.
A defendant ordered by the court to be placed on electronic monitoring may be ordered to pay the costs and expenses related to electronic monitoring and victim notification or a portion of the costs and expenses, based on the defendant's ability to pay. In addition, the defendant would be assessed a monitoring fee of $250. The court could waive the fee in cases of extreme financial hardship.
The bill requires the Attorney General, in consultation with the Administrative Office of the Courts, to develop procedures to determine, investigate, and report on a 24-hour-per-day basis a defendant's noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the program. All reports of noncompliance would be investigated by a law enforcement officer within a reasonable period of time.