Some New Jersey lawmakers say crime victims should be able to get official records of those crimes without having to pay document fees.
In addition to waiving fees, a proposal now before legislators would amend New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act to keep victims’ requests for the police reports from being disclosed.
The founder and executive director of Unchained At Last, which helps women escape from abusive arranged marriages, is pushing for the legislation because of her experience in seeking records to obtain a restraining order against her former husband.
“I had to pay a fee for these records, which is insulting to crime victims, and also might prevent somebody from getting a final restraining order if the person just doesn’t have the money,” said Fraidy Reiss. “I was also horrified to learn that my request for records became public. Obviously, my ex-husband could have found that, and it would have put me in unnecessary danger.”
Local governments normally charge a fee to obtain those records.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who said waiving the fee for victims would not put strain local budgets, said it would represent a step forward for those who have suffered at the hands of criminals.