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McKnight Bill to Safeguard Privacy of Violent Crime Victims Gains General Assembly Approval

Legislation Would Prohibit Victims’ Personal Identifying Information from Entering Public Record

Legislation Assemblywoman Angela McKnight sponsored to protect the safety and privacy of violent crime victims and witnesses gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-3626) would prohibit the release of personal identifying information of violent crime victims and witnesses under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

“For some violent crime victims, the mere anticipation of public scrutiny is a deterrent to reporting an incident or providing information that may help law enforcement officials,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “If these victims have assurance that their privacy will be respected, they may be more likely to come forward, which would be a major step forward for public safety overall.”

For the purposes of the bill, personal identifying information includes, but is not limited to: the identity, name, home and work addresses, home and work telephone numbers, home and work fax numbers, Social Security number, driver’s license number, email address or social media address of a violent crime victim or witness. Under current law, the name, address and age of any victims of crime are public record.

“While government must honor measures like OPRA to advance transparency, it also has a duty to protect individuals whose circumstances may make them vulnerable,” said McKnight. “By promoting confidentiality for violent crime victims in New Jersey, this legislation will help limit their exposure to additional harassment and trauma that may come with being in the public eye.”

The measure was approved unanimously.