April 19, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed a series of bills strengthening how law enforcement agencies handle sexual assault cases. These bills direct law enforcement agencies to allocate additional resources to sexual assault cases, increase training for prosecutors on how to manage these cases, and change reporting structures to ensure that survivors are properly notified about their cases. As part of this package of bills, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal will also be tasked with publishing an annual report detailing the scope of sexual assault incidents statewide.
“It is imperative that we take steps to make sure that survivors in New Jersey know they can seek justice,” said Governor Murphy. “Giving our law enforcement agencies clear directives and guidance on how to manage sexual assault cases will ensure that these cases are handled with survivors in mind. These long-overdue reforms will change how survivors interact with law enforcement agencies and provide additional information on the scope of these incidents. I am proud to sign these bills into law.”
Previously, Governor Murphy signed the Sexual Assault Victim’s Bill of Rights, legislation to protect survivors, and legislation to create a new commission on campus sexual assault. Attorney General Grewal also issued a directive to law enforcement in 2018 that created fourteen protocols prioritizing the needs and concerns of sexual assault victims in New Jersey and ensuring that victims are treated with respect and understanding by law enforcement in the days, weeks, and months after reporting an assault. Many of today’s actions codify and expand on that 2018 directive.
Governor Murphy today signed the following legislation:
- S3070/A4884 (Weinberg, Turner/Vainieri Huttle, McKnight, Reynolds-Jackson) Establishes “Sexual Violence Restorative Justice Pilot Program.”
- S3071/4885 (Weinberg, Ruiz/Vainieri Huttle, Lopez, Reynolds-Jackson) Requires law enforcement provide victim of sexual assault with initial incident report; provides victim with option to review initial incident report and submit corrective form.
- S3072/A4886 – (Weinberg, Cunningham/Vainieri Huttle, Murphy, Reynolds-Jackson) Requires resources be made available to victims of sexual assault.
- S3073/A4887 – (Weinberg, Corrado/Vainieri Huttle, Jasey, Timberlake) Establishes right of victims to be notified of county prosecutor’s charging decision in sexual assault cases.
- S3074/A4888 – (Weinberg, Greenstein/Vainieri Huttle, Lopez) Requires the Office of the Attorney General to issue an annual report concerning sexual assault cases.
- S3075/A4889 – (Weinberg, Pou/Vainieri Huttle, Quijano, Speight) Establishes sexual violence liaison officer in Division of State Police and local police departments.
- S3076/A4890 – (Weinberg, Gill/Vainieri Huttle, McKnight, Reynolds-Jackson) Requires sexual assault training for prosecutors.
“This legislation codifies and in some instances expands upon the important steps our office has taken in the last several years to improve the way law enforcement officers and prosecutors engage with victims of sexual assault, with the goal of ensuring that survivors’ cases are handled in accordance with best practices by police and prosecutors,” said Attorney General Grewal. “With the signing of these bills into law, New Jersey stands as a model for improving survivor-focused case management and law enforcement training and reporting, so we can achieve justice while treating survivors of sex crimes with the respect and compassion they deserve.”
“Today, New Jersey adds to its portfolio of survivor-centered, trauma-informed laws and transforms how our state responds to the needs of survivors of sexual violence,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA). “The signing of todays’ package of bills is a direct reflection of what kind of change is possible when we collectively center the lived experiences of survivors to inform necessary policy and practice reforms. NJCASA is thankful for the survivors, advocates, bill sponsors, and Governor Murphy who made this possible.”