Tag: Caroline Casagrande

Editorial: Support for Casagrande’s Bill Creating Domestic Violence Courts

Source: Star-Ledger -

In the wake of Ray Rice’s brutal punch to his fiancée, a number of New Jersey lawmakers have come forward with ideas to help victims of domestic violence.

Caroline Casagrande

The latest is to create new courts devoted exclusively to these cases. State Assemblywomen Carolina Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) recently introduced a bill that would establish a three-year pilot program in their two counties.

Much like the proposal to track the worst abusers with GPS devises, this idea looks promising. Casagrande, who has served as a municipal attorney, says that of the majority of domestic violence cases — around 40,000 a year in New Jersey — currently go through our municipal courts.

Imagine a terrified victim, forced to sit nearby her angry abuser, with minimal or no security. Their case may have no public defender, maybe just a prosecutor, and will be handled by a judge who gets only 90 minutes of training in handling domestic violence.

These appearances are often for a charge of simple assault. But by the time that first police call happens, there’s often been a pattern of abuse. We’re missing the opportunity to pull these women out the second we learn of their situation, before it escalates to aggravated assault, serious bodily injuries, or even murder.

Washington D.C. became one of the first places in the country to have specialized domestic violence courts back in 1996. Experts say it substantially increased criminal prosecutions, by making it easier for victims to navigate the system. They could go to one place to get a restraining order — a civil matter — and pursue a criminal prosecution.

That integrated system also prevented judges from issuing overlapping orders, such as a restraining order in civil court, and child visitation rights in criminal court that require an abuser to see the victim.

That complexity makes domestic violence cases different. This is why one stop shopping for victims may be the right answer to help close dangerous loopholes in New Jersey’s system, too.

These proposals are good first steps, but let’s not squander this Ray Rice moment. The Legislature should take the long view on this and hold hearings on a more comprehensive approach to fighting domestic violence, one that sorts out the best way to use precious resources.

More services are needed. Victims need counseling, and legal representation. The state needs more supervised visitation centers where victims can feel safe when abusers are allowed to see their children. And so on.

Still, this bill deserves support. Our hope is that it’s the beginning of a larger conversation.

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Casagrande’s Plan for Domestic Violence Courts [video]

Source: NJTV Online [video] -

Caroline Casagrande

“What I’m proposing … is a new court that really deals with domestic violence, comprehensively, that allows for a courtroom that will have the resources and the support network we need for these victims, and the perpetrators, as well as judges and prosecutors and defenders who are specially trained in this.” – Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande’s interview appears on the video at the 1:10 mark.

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Casagrande to Host Blood Drive in Conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Caroline Casagrande

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one way to help those battling this disease is by donating blood. Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande will be hosting the district’s 6th Annual Blood Drive on Wednesday, October 22. The Central Jersey Blood Center will park their blood donation bus outside the District office at 35 West Main Street in Freehold Borough to make it convenient.

“The Central Jersey Blood Center serves area hospitals as they treat premature babies, trauma victims and cancer patients” says Casagrande. “All the blood donated, stays local and helps a neighbor in need.”

More than a million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. “Cancer patients are the primary recipients of blood transfusions” says Casagrande. “In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, consider a donation in the name of a loved one fighting that disease.”

“When my husband had a near fatal car accident in February of 2008, he needed over 20 pints of blood to save his life,” says the Assemblywoman. “Since then I have always tried to make sure we do our part to replenish the blood supply.”

The blood drive will run from 2 to 6 p.m.

“We thank our friends at Wegman’s and Delicious Orchards for providing us with sandwiches and doughnuts to share with those donating” says Assemblywoman Casagrande.

“We would love to see as many people as possible come out to give this gift of life” adds Casagrande. Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is encouraged by calling Casagrande’s legislative office at (732) 866-1695.

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Ray Rice assault video prompts Casagrande to Propose Domestic Violence Courts

Source: Star-Ledger -

Appalled that NFL star Ray Rice was not given prison time for punching out his fiancée, two state lawmakers have proposed creating new courts in New Jersey devoted exclusively to domestic violence cases.

State Assemblywomen Carolina Casagrande (R-Monmouth) last week introduced a bill (A3801) that would establish a three-year Domestic Violence Court pilot program limited to their two counties.

The domestic violence courts would be part of the state’s Superior Court system. Cases involving alleged domestic violence could be referred to the new courts, and the judges assigned to them would have expertise on the topic.

Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande said she came up with the idea in response to the release of a video showing Rice, a former Rutgers University star, punching out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel elevator, and after a committee hearing in which state court officials said many cases of domestic violence are handled in municipal courts.

“Right now, as it stands, we have these victims going into a courtroom where the people have minimal training,” Casagrande said. “Also, they’re sitting next to people who have minor traffic violations or may have a summons for not mowing their lawns. It’s really not an appropriate environment.”

The decision to allow Rice to enter a pre-trial invention program rather than serve prison time was approved by a Superior Court judge. But Casagrande said they still don’t have enough training in domestic violence cases.

Under the bill’s proposal for a pilot project, two new judges would be assigned to the domestic violence courts — one in Monmouth County and one in Camden County. And any court within the two counties could refer domestic violence cases to the new court.

The bill does not specify what kind of training the judges would have to undergo, but says they would be “knowledgeable in criminal law and procedure, particularly in relation to intimate partner violence.”

“It’s really an attempt to get these victims and perpetrators into a court that really understands the problem,” Casagrande said.

There is no estimate as to how much the new court system would cost. Superior Court judges makes $165,000 a year, and there would be two more under the new system. But Casagrande said increased costs could be offset by fewer domestic violence cases clogging municipal courts.

Under the bill, the Administrative Office of the Courts would evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot program and monitor its effect on criminal sentencing, the court’s calendar and workload. It would then make recommendations on whether to continue or even expand it. To become law, the bill would need to pass the full Assembly and Senate and then be signed by the governor.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) decides what bills advance in the lower house. His spokesman, Tom Hester, Jr., said the bill will be “reviewed.”

In addition to the legislation to create domestic violence courts, Casagrande also introduced bills to upgrade domestic violence crimes and include a mandatory three years of imprisonment for offenders who injure their victims (A3002), and to require that all judges receive at least three hours of domestic violence training (A3803).

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Casagrande Bill Establishes State Medal for Cold War Veterans

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assistant Assembly Republican Leader Caroline Casagrande honors New Jersey veterans who served during the Cold War period with her bill that won approval today from the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill, A-1899, cleared the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in June.

Caroline Casagrande

“More than 120,000 New Jersey veterans served during the pivotal Cold War era,” said Casagrande, R – Monmouth. “Their patriotic service helped win the Cold War, returning freedom to millions of people around the world.”

“The Cold War Medal recognizes their contributions to the Free World’s stance against totalitarianism in a time marked by increasing military tension, incendiary diplomatic rhetoric, and the threat of a nuclear first strike,” continued Casagrande.

Under Casagrande’s bipartisan measure, the governor may present a Cold War medal to any state resident honorably discharged from service after serving at least 180 days during the Cold War. The Cold War started after World War II, on September 2, 1945. It continued until the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

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Casagrande:Handling of Rice case shows more work needs to be done [video]

Source: Assembly Republican Video -

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande spoke on the Assembly Floor Monday, Sept. 15, to establish New Jersey’s Task Force on Domestic Violence and Abuse. Casagrande referred victim advocates’ testimony before the Assembly Women and Children Committee that prosecutors handling of Ray Rice is too often common and urged legislators to do more to support victims.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande: “I rise to support my colleagues across the aisle as well as my colleagues on this side of the aisle who have all, in a bipartisan manner, come together to let domestic violence victims here in New Jersey know that they are not alone.

“Our chairwoman of Women and Children put together a very aggressive agenda this week and our vice-chair. And we took a holistic approach. One of those things that perhaps those of you who don’t have the benefit of sitting on Women and Children heard this week from domestic violence advocates we directly asked, ‘was the Ray Rice case rare? Is it rare you can knock a woman unconscious in the State of New Jersey and not get a day of jail time?’ And, the answer came back a resounding, ‘No.’

“So while we have a lot to congratulate ourselves on – improving the lives of these victims today, I suggest humbly as a legislator that we have a long way to go on the connecting of the intensions of this House – because I assure you everyone in this House believes that if you knock a woman unconscious and drag her out of an elevator you belong in prison – and what is actually going on in the courthouses across New Jersey.

“We found out that 40,000 cases of domestic violence cases go through municipal courts and judges have an hour and a half of training, and that’s unacceptable.

“So thank you for these bills. Thank you for my colleagues who helped move them, but we have a long way to go to protect these victims.”

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Republicans support domestic violence bills passed by NJ Assembly

Source: Asbury Park Press -

With multiple references to suspended NFL star Ray Rice, the Assembly unanimously approved a half-dozen measures Monday aimed at combating domestic violence.

None of the proposals was written in response to Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious in an Atlantic City casino hotel elevator in February or last week’s video release of the incident. In fact, four of the bills have been awaiting action since 2010.

But the controversy surrounding the former Rutgers University and Baltimore Ravens running back lent a sense of immediacy to the passage of the package that would allow victims to testify by closed-circuit television and allow them to claim self-defense to justify any force they use to protect themselves from someone who is subject of a restraining order.

There are more than 70,000 domestic violence cases a year in New Jersey. More than 4,500 are severe enough to trigger a restraining order.

Rice avoided trial by agreeing to enter the state’s Pretrial Intervention Program. Charges will be dismissed if he successfully completes the program. The NFL suspended him for two games, until the video was made public. He has now been suspended indefinitely, and the Ravens terminated his contract.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said more protection for victims needs to be done. For instance, she said it’s unacceptable that 40,000 domestic violence cases go through municipal courts, whose judges get 90 minutes of training on the subject. She said people who testified before the Assembly committee that considered the bills said Rice’s admission to the PTI program wasn’t unique.

Caroline Casagrande

“We have a long way to go in connecting the intentions of this house – because I assure you, everyone in this house believes that if you knock a woman unconscious and drag her out of an elevator you belong in prison – and what’s actually going on in the courthouses across New Jersey,” she said.

Casagrande and 12 fellow Republican women lawmakers issued statements following the votes that called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign over his handling of domestic violence, both the Rice issue and the indictment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for injuring his son by disciplining him by lashing him with a thin branch.

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Casagrande-Muñoz Praise Assembly Vote on Domestic Violence Bill Package

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republicans Caroline Casagrande and Nancy F. Muñoz voiced their support for today’s Assembly approval of a bill package addressing domestic violence. Casagrande and Muñoz are members of the Assembly Women and Children Committee, which released the bills last week.

Caroline Casagrande

“As we have seen in the NFL, the incidence of domestic violence is not rare and not confined to New Jersey,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “These bills deal with a pervasive problem that recognizes the victims’ needs and how we can help them through a traumatic experience.

“Common sense tells us that knocking someone unconscious or punching them in the face causes serious body injury,” continued Casagrande.” The Legislature must now focus on the penalties that are imposed in these situations. Allowing a violent act to go unpunished trivializes the seriousness of this crime.”

The bill package requires counseling for domestic violence offenders; establishes the justification of self-defense by victims; creates a program to assist victims reintegrate into society; and permits a witness under age 16 to testify by closed circuit television in domestic crime prosecutions.

Nancy Munoz

“Attacks on domestic partners are too frequent,” commented Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Perpetrators of domestic violence must face appropriate punishment and not a slap on the wrist. The Ray Rice episode was horrific and this issue is far from over. The next step must be to strengthen the law make and make certain the punishment fits this heinous crime.”

Both Casagrande and Muñoz joined with other women in the Assembly Republican caucus in calling for the resignation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a result of the league’s tepid response over recent incidents of domestic violence.

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Casagrande on bill package protecting domestic violence victims

Source: The Star-Ledger -

As footage of football player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious sparks outrage around the country, a New Jersey Assembly panel today approved a package of bills intended to protect domestic violence victims.

Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande suggested the Legislature work to consider legislation to make sure those who commit egregious domestic violence offenses are are charged with serious crimes. Some of the outrage over the Rice video has focused on the Atlantic County prosecutor’s decision to let him enter a pre-trial intervention program.

“How can we be clearer as a Legislature that knocking someone unconscious … absolutely is an assault on that person?” Casagrande asked.

The five bills the Assembly Women and Children Committee unanimously approved this morning were first written in 2012 or 2013, and the meeting was scheduled last Friday — days before the video was leaked.

But the controversy around the video fueled much of the talk about the bills, including the most far-reaching proposed legislation, which would require all people convicted of domestic violence to undergo counseling (A1310), allow victims to testify against the accused through closed-circuit television (A2154), and create an early release and reintegration program for incarcerated victims of domestic violence (A1677).

“A lot of the social media this week didn’t get why she stayed,” Bernadette Maull, a victim advocate from the Camden County Women’s Center, said about Rice’s wife. “We’re putting all our focus on the responsibility of the victim to get out of that situation, when our focus should really be why should we tolerate that. Why were so many people surprised when they saw that video?”

The two other bills approved by the committee would require police to search a registry of domestic violence restraining orders when conducting and arrest (A1953), and allow courts to admit the retraining orders as evidence as to “whether the use of force was justifiable” if a domestic violence victim is charged with attacking his or her abuser (A1579).

Nobody who testified at the hearing opposed any of the bills. But they did take issue with some of their details.

Some lawmakers expressed concern about the reintegration program, which would allow some low-risk offenders who are domestic violence victims out of prison if they undergo “re-entry training, agree to a re-entry plan outlining their responsibilities under the program, and follow a transition plan that might include a secure residential community placement.”

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) said she was concerned about the bill’s costs, which have not yet been tabulated.

“It is my hope that, with some additional work, this bill can become revenue neutral with the inmates that are being released,” she said.

Casagrande also suggested the Legislature work to consider legislation to make sure those who commit egregious domestic violence offenses are are charged with serious crimes. Some of the outrage over the Rice video has focused on the Atlantic County prosecutor’s decision to let him enter a pre-trial intervention program.

“How can we be clearer as a Legislature that knocking someone unconscious … absolutely is an assault on that person?” Casagrande asked.

This is the first legislative hurdle for the bills. To become law, they would need to pass the full Assembly and Senate, and get Gov. Chris Christie’s signature.

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Casagrande-Muñoz Laud Assembly Women and Children Committee for Action on Domestic Violence

Assembly Republican Press Release -

With domestic violence at the forefront of public concern, Assembly Republicans Caroline Casagrande and Nancy F. Muñoz lauded the action taken today by the Assembly Women and Children Committee which released a package of bills addressing the problem. Both Republican legislators are members of the committee.

Caroline Casagrande

“We heard testimony from people on the front lines of domestic violence that the Ray Rice case wasn’t rare,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “Even though common sense dictates that knocking someone unconscious is an attempt to cause serious bodily injury, these charges are frequently downgraded. There is clearly a disconnect between the legislative intent regarding domestic violence and how the law is applied in the courtroom. Reducing charges that allow a violent act to go unpunished trivializes the seriousness of this crime.”

The 5-bill package requires counseling for domestic violence offenders; establishes the justification of self-defense by victims; creates a program to assist victims reintegrate into society; and permits a witness under age 16 to testify by closed circuit television in domestic crime prosecutions.

Nancy Munoz

“Physical assault is an act of violence,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The recent event regarding Ray Rice and his then fiancé brings this important issue to the forefront. The Legislature is committed to protecting the public from violent acts. Today’s bill package addresses the victims’ needs, and we must also make clear there is an intent to punish those guilty of committing this heinous crime.”

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