Jersey City to implement ‘safe serenity room’ at municipal court for domestic violence survivors

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The City of Jersey City is poised to implement a “safe serenity room” at their municipal court so that domestic violence survivors won’t have to encounter their abusers in person.

Jersey City Municipal Court. Photo via Google Maps.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

As emerging data shows an increase in domestic violence cases since the COVID-19 outbreak, in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Jersey City is opening the doors to a new initiative exclusively designed as a resource center and safe haven for domestic violence survivors involved in often stressful and complicated court proceedings.

A secure location for this project has been established at the Lewis S. McRae Justice Complex at 365 Summit Ave.

The space is outfitted with a large screen monitor to see and hear court cases so that survivors and children do not have to be in the same courtroom as their offenders. The initiative is being proposed to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“This is a significant step that plays a much bigger role in our broader efforts to address all public safety issues,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“The goal here is to provide added safety for domestic violence survivors, and we’re taking it a step further by providing families with the services and resources extending beyond the courtroom to help them successfully move forward with their lives.”

Currently, the Jersey City Municipal Court has one court dedicated to domestic violence, which handles over 100 domestic violence cases per week, officials said.

“In Jersey City, we understand the role of a prosecutor is much more than bringing a case to court,” added Chief Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut, who is running for the Ward E council seat on Fulop’s ticket.

“We value the importance of making domestic violence survivors whole by mitigating the challenges associated with coming to court and giving them resources to thrive long after their case is closed.”

Ready for use once court proceedings are no longer virtual, the Safe Serenity Room will include domestic violence resources, as well as a child-friendly area with books and toys.

Additionally, Jersey City is partnering with the non-profit groups Women Rising and Sarah’s Daughters, to also provide volunteer victim advocates who offer in-court referrals.

Counselors will meet one-on-one with domestic violence survivors and provide the vital tools they need to move forward, such as sheltering, relocation assistance, counseling, and victim compensation.

Jersey City’s Department of Health and Human Services and the Division of Violence Prevention will also offer Duluth-style counseling for defendants.