N.J. considers alerting crime witnesses when offender leaves prison

A bill to help protect witnesses who testified against criminals is awaiting final legislative approval by the New Jersey Senate.

Current law requires the state to notify victims when offenders convicted of certain violent crimes and sex offenses are released from prison.

A measure that’s already been passed by the Assembly would also require that crime witnesses be notified.

State Sen. Donald Norcross sponsored the bill after hearing about a woman in Woodbury who was murdered last year by a man she testified against in 2004.

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“She was not aware of his release. He found her, and he strangled her. That might have been different if she were notified. She could have kept a watchful eye,” said Norcross, D-Camden. “Here he showed up and unfortunately her life ended.”

Society asks people who see crimes to do the right thing and testify — and they deserve to be informed about an offender’s release so they can take precautions, he said.

“Our society was not built on stepping up to do the right thing and testifying, to lose your life or to be physically harmed,” Norcross said. “So I think it’s important that we notify witnesses or anyone else deemed at risk when somebody is being released from prison.”

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