NORCROSS LEGISLATION TO PROTECT WITNESSES OF CRIME ADVANCES

TRENTON) – Legislation by Senator Donald Norcross expanding the statewide victim and witness notification system to include testifying witnesses and any other appropriate person was passed by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today. The system, operated by the Attorney General, automatically notifies all victims of certain violent crimes and their families when a defendant has been released from custody. “Expanding this system is a common-sense step toward protecting those who are willing to testify against violent offenders,” said Senator Norcross. “It is their right to have as much information as possible in order to make the best decisions for their safety.” Late last year, a Woodbury woman was found fatally stabbed in her home not long after the man she helped prosecutors convict for manslaughter was released from jail. The woman, who had been a key witness, had not been notified because she had not expressed feelings of being threatened by the defendant at the time of the trial. “No one should be caught off-guard by the release of a prisoner who might have a grudge against them,” Senator Norcross added. Authorities say a change in the system would require the judge to provide a list of those involved in the case to the Attorney General’s Office. Other appropriate persons could be added to the list as identified by the Prosecutor’s Office in charge of the trial. The Senate Committee advanced the measure unanimously. ###

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