The Essex County Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy was started by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in 1982 pursuant to New Jersey law, which requires the county Victim-Witness Coordinator to implement and provide services to crime victims. The Office’s primary mandate is to fulfill the provisions of the New Jersey Constitution and New Jersey statutes which require:
- That crime victims be treated with dignity, compassion and respect;
- That victims be informed and consulted in matters such as plea bargaining;
- That victims be given the right to be heard at all stages of the criminal justice process.
For a detailed description of all services available to crime victims and witnesses from the ECPO Victim-Witness Advocacy Office as well as from other sources, along with other victim / witness information and how to contact the ECPO Victim-Witness Advocacy Office, please see the Victim-Witness Services section of this web site.
The Essex County Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy helps victims and witnesses deal with immediate life needs, especially those who live within Essex County’s lower-income neighborhoods, who are most at-risk of experiencing violent crime and whose lives are most vulnerable to economic and personal disruption. The Office helps them to find the resources needed to maintain basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, health care, employment, transportation, daycare for pre-school children, etc. It also assists victims and witnesses in dealing with the psychological trauma of crime (which cuts across all economic and social strata) and helps them obtain professional assistance as needed. The Office then helps victims and witnesses to understand and fulfill their rights and responsibilities within the criminal justice system, providing continual communication and coordination regarding case progress and participation in legal proceedings.
The Office provides court accompaniment and escort services as appropriate, especially where intimidation is present. Office personnel also assist victims in gaining economic compensation for their losses through insurance, restitution and the Victims of Crime Compensation Board. The Office assures victims and witnesses that it is equally concerned with their overall well-being as with obtaining the conviction of the offender.
The Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy has a qualified staff with significant training and professional counseling experience in emergency assistance, crisis management and interpersonal violence. The staff includes a Victim-Witness Coordinator, Victim-Witness Counselors, and Clerical Assistants. The Coordinator meets bi-weekly with the Counselors to review and evaluate cases, discuss progress and develop service plans to ensure procedural and programmatic compliance with state and federal regulations. The Office is supported in part by government grants involving Federal and State of New Jersey funding programs.