ASSEMBLY, No. 4563

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED AUGUST 24, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JAMEL C. HOLLEY

District 20 (Union)

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  BRIAN BERGEN

District 25 (Morris and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention in the DLPS.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act establishing the Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention in the Department of Law and Public Safety and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  The Attorney General shall establish a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention in the Department of Law and Public Safety.  The purpose of the division shall be to ensure that each county provides well-coordinated and accessible violence prevention resources to persons in the county.

     b.    The administrator and head of the division shall be a director, who shall be known as the Director of Violence Prevention and Intervention, and who shall be a person qualified by training and experience to perform the duties of the office of the director.  The director shall be appointed by the Attorney General and shall receive a salary as shall be provided by law.

     c.     The director may apply for and accept on behalf of the State any grants from the Federal Government or any agency thereof, or from any foundation, corporation, association or person, and may comply with the terms, conditions and limitations thereof, for any of the purposes of the division. Any money received may be expended by the division, subject to any limitations imposed in the grants, to effectuate any of the purposes of the division upon warrant of the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting of the Department of the Treasury on vouchers certified and approved by the director. 

 

     2.    a.  The county prosecutor in each county shall appoint or designate a violence prevention and intervention coordinator to serve as coordinator for the division in accordance with the provisions of this section.  A person designated as a program coordinator pursuant to this subsection shall not be deemed an employee of the county prosecutor's office.

     b.    The program coordinator shall:

     (1)   create a directory of existing violence prevention services and activities in the county; 

     (2)   develop and recommend services to be funded by local governing bodies which encompass both interpersonal violence and suicide prevention programs;

     (3)   identify vacant properties and existing community spaces that may be transformed for use by local organizations that lead violence prevention activities or provide supportive services to at-risk youth and their families;

     (4)   develop a network of volunteers and mentors within the community who:

     (a)   can address issues such as youth violence and suicide prevention; and

     (b)   offer community outreach that provides guidance to young people about engaging in voluntary behavior with the intent to help others;

     (5)   emphasize collaboration among all agencies that work with at-risk populations, identify cross-cutting risk factors and prevention strategies, and establish working groups to address core issues including, but not limited to, homicide and suicide prevention, youth violence, and drug abuse;

     (6)   encourage local organizations that provide violence prevention services to seek out and apply for grant funding in support of their initiatives and provide technical assistance and support to the organizations to maximize the likelihood of success of the applications;

     (7)   partner with local institutions of higher education to develop an evaluation tool for violence prevention and reduction strategies and partner on grant applications to implement prevention and reduction plans;

     (8)   focus on providing assistance to ex-offenders with an expressed interest in transitioning back into the community through employment assistance, treatment and counseling, and housing; and

     (9)   incorporate the services of ex-offenders who have rehabilitated themselves to serve as mentors or role models for at-risk youth who have engaged in criminal activity or are at-risk of engaging in criminal behavior. 

     c.     There shall be appropriated annually from the General Fund:

     (1)   to the Department of Law and Public Safety the salary costs of the Director of the Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention appointed pursuant to section 1 of P.L.    c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); and

     (2)   to each county the salary costs of county violence prevention and intervention coordinators appointed pursuant to this section.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month next following the data of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention in the Department of Law and Public Safety.  The purpose of the division is to ensure that each county provides access to well-coordinated violence prevention resources to persons in the county.  

     The division is to be overseen by a Director of Violence Prevention and Intervention, who is to be appointed by the Attorney General.  The director is authorized under the bill to apply for and accept on behalf of the State any grants from the Federal Government or agency, or from any foundation, corporation, association or person, for any of the purposes of the division.

     The provisions of the bill also require the county prosecutor in each county to appoint or designate a violence prevention and intervention coordinator.  A person designated as a program coordinator is not to be deemed an employee of the county prosecutor's office.  

     The program coordinator is required to: (1) create a directory of existing violence prevention services and activities in the county; (2) develop and recommend services to be funded by local governing bodies; (3) identify vacant properties or existing community spaces that could be transformed for use by local organizations that lead violence prevention activities or provide supportive services to at-risk youth and their families; (4) develop a network of volunteers and mentors within the community who can address issues such as youth violence and suicide prevention, as well as offer community outreach to provide guidance to young people about engaging in voluntary behavior with the intent to help others; (5) emphasize collaboration among all agencies that work with at-risk populations, identify cross-cutting risk factors and prevention strategies and establish working groups to address core issues including, but not limited to, homicide and suicide prevention, youth violence, and drug abuse; (6) encourage local organizations that provide violence prevention services seek out grant funding, and provide technical assistance and support to the organizations to maximize the likelihood of success of the applications; (7) partner with local institutions of higher education to develop an evaluation tool for violence prevention and reduction strategies and partner on grant applications to implement prevention and reduction plans; (8) focus on providing assistance to ex-offenders with an expressed interest in transitioning back into the community through employment assistance, treatment and counseling, and housing; and (9) incorporate the services of ex-offenders who have rehabilitated themselves to serve as mentors or role models for at-risk youth who have engaged in criminal activity or are at-risk of engaging in criminal behavior. 

     The bill further provides for annual appropriations to the Department of Law and Public Safety for payment of the salary costs of the Director of the Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention, and to each county for the salary costs of county violence prevention and intervention coordinators.

     This bill implements one of the recommendations of New Jersey’s independent Study Commission on Violence in its report issued in October 2015.