Assembly Oks Bill To Broaden Protections For Crime Witnesses

TRENTON – The Assembly passed a bill to require a crime witness to be notified when the offender is released from custody was by a 77-1 vote on Monday.

Under current law, the Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy automatically notifies crime victims when defendants convicted of certain serious crimes are about to be released from incarceration, unless the crime victims have requested not to be notified.
The bill (A-3692) approved today would require that upon the request of a witness or, any other person determined appropriate by the prosecutor, the Office of Victim and Witness Advocacy would notify them of the impending release as well.

“A citizen who participates in a criminal proceeding should be told of a violent offender’s release,” said Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, III (D-Middlesex). “This would be a small legislative action that would extend the opportunity for more New Jerseyans to be kept informed for their own safety.”

The bill would direct the Attorney General to maintain or arrange for the state to participate in an automatic notification system to alert crime victims, witnesses, and other appropriate persons when an offender is released from custody or is transferred within the correctional system. Victims, witnesses, and, as determined by the prosecuting agency, other appropriate persons would supply contact information and automatic notification will alert them when custody status changes.

The legislation now awaits further consideration by the Senate.

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