Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol and Governmental Operations Committee Chair Crystal Peoples-Stokes today announced the Assembly's passage of a package of legislation aimed to protect and support victims of crimes, including domestic violence and human trafficking.
"The Assembly Majority remains committed to ensuring that innocent victims of crimes are given our utmost support," said Speaker Heastie. "The legislation we have passed will help offer survivors the resources and assistance they need to regain their lives."
"This legislation will help offer more than justice to victims of such egregious crimes - it will offer meaningful and necessary services and support that will have lifelong impacts for survivors," said Assemblymember Lentol.
"Overcoming the pain associated with being a crime victim undoubtedly requires we make sure that these critical services are available to individuals," said Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes. "This legislative package helps secure essential services and support for those who need it most."
The package includes legislation that would protect victims who seek police or emergency assistance from being evicted from their homes (A.2919, Lavine). Many local nuisance laws are triggered if police or emergency services provide aid or are called to a property multiple times. This legislation seeks to prevent such ordinances from causing victims, often times women and their children, from being evicted from their homes for seeking emergency help.
Human Trafficking Victims Support
The Assembly's legislative package also recognizes the need to treat victims of sexual exploitation as victims, rather than criminals. Under another bill, a person convicted of prostitution or who is found be to be a victim of sex trafficking would not be required to provide samples to be included in the state DNA identification database (A.1030, Paulin). Another measure would address the need for sex trafficking victims to secure placement in short-term and long-term housing by ensuring prompt eligibility (A.3223, Lentol). These residences offer much needed services, such as counseling, that often help survivors transition back into the community.
In an effort to train individuals to better recognize sex trafficking, another piece of legislation would establish a standard uniform human trafficking recognition training program and require all employees at commercial casino gaming facilities to undergo such training (A.7034, Titone).
Crime Victims Support
Under another bill, courts would be given discretion to direct that part or all of criminal fines or civil penalties under certain antitrust laws be paid to the Office of Victim Services (A.3555, Englebright). The Office of Victim Services provides compensation to innocent victims of crime, funds direct services to crime victims through a network of community-based programs and advocates for the rights of all innocent victims of crime.
The legislative package also includes legislation designed to support crime victims, including measures that would: