Why do we need a Family Justice Center in San Joaquin County?
Amy, a victim of domestic violence needs medical treatment, a restraining order, counseling, financial assistance/aid, and much more.
Here is what she must do currently…
Assume that Amy lives in Lodi. She may go to Lodi Memorial Hospital for medical treatment. If the violence included sexual assault, she will have to travel to the Child Advocacy Center where sexual assault examinations are conducted.
For a restraining order, Amy may opt to go to Victim/Witness or the Women’s Center in Stockton for help with the application. She will need to submit the application to the Family Law Court in Stockton. When the Temporary Restraining Order is ready, she will need to return to the Family Law Court to pick it up. She may then need to travel to the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division in French Camp to have the Temporary Restraining Order served on her abuser. If her abuser cannot be served at least 5 days prior to court date for the Permanent Restraining Order, Amy will need to apply for an extension and again go to the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division for service of process.
Amy may receive a referral to an outside agency for counseling which may require her to travel to the counseling provider's office.
To apply to receive financial resources, Amy will need to go to the Human Services Agency in Stockton to complete their intake process.
At this point, Amy will have driven 104 miles and traveled for more than 2 hours. If Amy does not have a car and
travels by bus, she may have to travel up to 11 hours. This time does not include waiting in line, filling out forms, and telling her story over and over.
More travel and time will be needed if Amy meets with detectives, attends Family Law Court hearings, meets with the District Attorney, attends Criminal Court, attends more counseling sessions, or seeks civil legal advice. Even more travel will be needed if she requires guidance with life skills, childcare while getting help, care for a family pet while in a shelter.
What if Amy is a dependent adult or a senior citizen? How would someone who is wheelchair bound navigate this situation?
What if Amy is a human trafficking victim?
How can we make it easier for Amy when she can take
What is the solution? The San Joaquin County Family Justice Center (SJCFJC).
Victims need a place to feel safe. Victims in trauma should only be required to go to one place where all their needs can be met under a single roof. Currently, victims are forced to travel to multiple locations and tell their stories multiple times. This frustrating experience is exhausting and often leads to their returning to the abusive situation.
When a victim arrives, they will be made to feel safe. They will be greeted by a receptionist who will connect the victim with a Service Navigator. The Service Navigator will interview the victim to find out what their needs are. Whether the needs include shelter, clothing, food, financial education, counseling for themselves and their children, assistance with a restraining order and child custody, photographs of injuries, interview by law enforcement, or understanding what may happen to the abuser in the criminal justice system, all their needs can be met without having to leave the building.
By co-locating and coordinating the services of the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office, law enforcement, non-profit community-based services, social services, mental health, and civil legal services, resources can be delivered more efficiently, resulting in better service to the citizens we are all charged with serving.