TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino today announced that he is providing a total of $75,000 in forfeiture funds – $25,000 each – to Family Justice Centers in Essex, Union and Monmouth Counties, each of which provides coordinated services in one location to help victims of domestic violence and their children protect themselves and rebuild their lives.
Attorney General Porrino is providing the funding for the centers using criminal forfeiture funds from the Division of Criminal Justice. There currently are four Family Justice Centers (“FJCs”) operating in New Jersey, including a center in Morris County. All involve partnerships among nonprofits, county prosecutors’ offices, and other government and non-government agencies. The U.S. Department of Justice recognizes the Family Justice Center model as a best practice in the area of domestic violence intervention, and certain partners for each of New Jersey’s FJCs receive federal grants administered by the Attorney General’s Office under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The funding announced today represents the first time criminal forfeiture funds have been provided to the FJCs to serve law enforcement purposes related to their operations.
“When battered, frightened victims arrive at the door, frequently with nowhere else to go, these Family Justice Centers offer them safety, hope and a chance to rebuild their lives, connecting them in one location to vital services such as legal assistance, counseling, emergency shelter and health services,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This $75,000 will enable these lifesaving facilities to meet some critical needs, including enhancing security and acquiring better evidence-gathering technology. We want to highlight the great work being done by these centers so other counties will replicate this model.”
“It’s hard to think of a better way to spend criminal forfeiture funds than directing them to these Family Justice Centers, which work with law enforcement under a proven model to help some of our most vulnerable victims obtain justice and a new lease on life,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to make protection of victims of domestic violence a top priority.”
“The interventions offered to domestic violence victims at Family Justice Centers are more effective due to the colocation of service providers and cross-system collaboration that takes place through this service delivery model,” said Mary Houtsma, Executive Director of the Essex County Family Justice Center. “We are very grateful to the Office of the Attorney General for recognizing this and for providing support to New Jersey’s Family Justice Centers so that we can help victims achieve better outcomes through integrated multidisciplinary services. The work enabled by the Office of the Attorney General’s generous support will serve as a demonstration to other New Jersey counties seeking to replicate the model.”
The Family Justice Centers are designed to help victims of domestic or intimate partner violence or sexual assault avoid the confusion and barriers encountered when the many government, law enforcement, social service, health and legal service providers they need operate independently from each other at separate locations, forcing victims to navigate their way between agencies alone and repeat their story again and again. The Family Justice Centers bring law enforcement, service providers and other professionals together in one location to offer a safe, supportive and coordinated response to the needs of victims and their families. Among the services provided by the four Family Justice Centers in New Jersey are the following:
- Crisis intervention
- Assistance from law enforcement professionals
- Civil legal and immigration assistance
- Court advocacy
- Safety planning
- Referrals for emergency shelter, housing and food assistance
- Support groups
- Referrals for medical and behavioral health screenings and services
- Referrals for employment services and child care
The funding announced by Attorney General Porrino will be used for specific purposes set forth in agreements executed between each Family Justice Center and the Department of Law & Public Safety. Among the authorized expenditures are the following:
- New security equipment for certain of the facilities, including enhanced video surveillance and alarm systems
- New audio and video recording equipment to record victim statements
- High-quality cameras and related equipment for photographing injuries and evidence and reproducing photographs
- Various computers to document cases and access related information
Websites for the three Family Justice Centers receiving funds are found at these links:
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