Bill Would Increase Scope of State's Victim Notification System "VINE" to Include Changes in Protection Orders Among Reasons to Alert Victims
(TRENTON) - The General Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera and Connie Wagner that would notify victims if changes have been made to restraining orders, as well as when the defendant has been released from custody or released on bail.
"This legislation expands the scope of existing law to provide greater protection to residents who have been victimized," said Singleton (D- Burlington). "Orders of protection ensure the safety of the victims. They should be made aware if the status of that protection alters in anyway so they may take precautions if needed."
Currently, the Attorney general operates the Victim Notification Everyday System (VINE) and applies to all victims. The bill (A-3544) would amend current law to require prosecutors to notify the victim when a defendant is released from custody to automatically notify a domestic violence victim, through the VINE system regarding any changes to protection orders in addition to defendant release information.
"Ensuring that state law does the absolute best to protect and inform the citizens of New Jersey is our job," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "As long as the victim is made aware of a change in their perpetrators status as it relates to them, they will be able to act quickly, inform authorities, and make the best decision for their safety."
"Many domestic abuse victims live in fear of their abusers despite having restraining orders against them. These victims have been through enough. They should not have to spend their days wondering if and when they will be victimized again," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This bill gives these victims advance notice so that they can take proactive measures to ensure their safety."
"Sometimes a restraining order is not enough. Many domestic violence victims have died at the hands of abusive partners whose thirst for revenge was greater than their fear for the law," said Wagner (D-Bergen). "Notifying them early about any changes pertaining to their protection orders could mean the difference between life and death. Giving them another layer of protection is the least we can do."
Under the bill's provisions, the victim's location would remain confidential and not appear on any documents or records to which the defendant will have access. The attorney general would continue to maintain this automatic notification system. The bill would authorize the attorney general to adopt rules, regulations and guideline to effectuate the purposes of the bill.
The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.