Legislation Assemblyman Ron Dancer sponsors to protect victims of domestic violence today won General Assembly approval. The bill, A-3806, establishes a four-year pilot program in Ocean County to electronically monitor domestic violence offenders.
The measure was inspired by the tragic death of Letizia “Lisa” Zindell, 30, of Toms River, who was killed in 2009 by her ex-fiancé who had been released from jail the day before despite violating a restraining order several times. Zindell was a social worker for the state Division of Youth and Family Services working toward her second master’s degree.
“Physical abuse almost always results in long-term psychological harm and never should be tolerated,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “Lisa did everything she could to try to protect herself, but our current law wasn’t enough. We need to keep people safe from abusers who are likely to continue their depraved behavior. This measure will allow us to take advantage of all available technology to make sure violent offenders cannot repeat their crimes.”
The legislation, known as “Lisa’s Law,” requires an offender to wear an electronic ankle bracelet when released on bail. The victim must also be notified when the abuser is close by, and costs and expenses related to the monitoring will be paid for by the offender.
The pilot program applies to defendants charged with or convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order. When such a defendant is released on bail or personal recognizance, the court may order electronic monitoring as a condition of release. Tampering with, removing or vandalizing the device will be a third degree crime which carries a 3 to 5 year prison sentence and a fine up to $15,000.
Dancer, adding that no other states currently electronically monitor individuals convicted of domestic violence or who violate restraining orders, said the bill has the potential to make New Jersey a leader in using technology to protect people from being re-victimized.