Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Monday, July 26, 1999

Release #295 -99

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins (212) 788-2958


New Initiatives Will Safeguard Domestic Violence Victims, Heighten Awareness, and Create Family Literacy Programs in Domestic Violence and Homeless Shelters

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today unveiled three new domestic violence programs that will focus on protecting victims, increasing public awareness, and providing additional services to shelter residents. The Mayor announced the launch of the state-of-the-art Juris Monitor pilot program, an expanded citywide public education campaign, and a family literacy program specifically designed for domestic violence and homeless shelter residents.

"Over the past five years, New York City has been at the forefront of combating domestic violence and providing services for families affected by this crime," Mayor Giuliani said. "These three new programs build on the successful citywide strategy of holding offenders accountable for their crimes, increasing community awareness, and providing services to victims and their families. By taking a proactive role in combating domestic violence, we improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and their families."

Juris Monitor Program

The New York City Department of Probation, in cooperation with the New York City Police Department, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, and the Courts, are implementing a domestic violence program that for the first time provides domestic violence victims a 'behind closed doors' early warning system. As part of the initiative -- the Juris Monitor program -- probation officers will monitor convicted domestic violence offenders by utilizing electronic ankle bracelets, alarms in the victims' homes, voice print registration and increased reporting requirements and home visits. All probationers in the Juris Monitor program are also confined to the home except when the probationer has permission to leave home for purposes such as attending school, receiving treatment, visiting a doctor or going to work.

"Unfortunately, all too often, domestic violence offenders who are intent on inflicting harm on their victims are undeterred by an order of protection," the Mayor said. "The Juris Monitor program fortifies the legal barrier between an offender and his would-be victim by creating an electronic barrier that, if breached, results in swift consequences. We must do whatever we can to protect the victims of domestic violence. The Juris Monitor program is an innovative step in the right direction."

If selected to participate in Juris Monitor as a condition of probation, convicted domestic violence offenders, who are also subject to orders of protection against them, must wear an electronic monitoring device around their ankle. If the offender comes within 500 feet of the victim's home, or the bracelet is tampered with, an alarm sounds in the home and 911 operators are notified. NYPD Officers are immediately dispatched to the scene. In addition, when the alarm is triggered, a recording device in the victim's home is activated. The system automatically documents the offender's violation of the order of protection and conditions of probation, resulting in arrest, prosecution and incarceration. Should the offender gain access to the home, his voice can be matched to a voiceprint that is taken when convicted offenders first enter the Juris Monitor program.

There are five probationers currently participating in the evaluation phase of Juris Monitor in Brooklyn, but the system has the capacity to accommodate hundreds of offenders citywide.

"The Juris Monitor program adds electronic teeth to a traditional order of protection and will help domestic violence victims rest a little easier," said Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. "I am pleased that we are able to offer victims an additional safeguard from those who would abuse them."

New York is the first large city to use this technology. "This technology will give us an ability to provide a level of protection to the victims of domestic violence that was not possible in the past, " said Probation Commissioner Raul Russi. "The electronic monitoring will play an important part in our agency's comprehensive approach to the problem of domestic violence. We will continue to work closely with the NYPD, the District Attorney and the Courts to improve our ability to protect domestic violence victims."

The Police Department has developed a special protocol to implement the Juris Monitor program. "Victims of domestic violence endure one of the most horrifying and damaging crimes imaginable," Police Commissioner Howard Safir said. "Home is the one place where everyone should both feel safe and actually be safe. The Juris Monitor program will not only help to increase the level of personal safety for domestic violence victims, but will also help ensure that those who commit these crimes are prevented from repeating them."

The Juris Monitor program is being implemented in conjunction with the City's larger Alternative to Shelter (ATS) initiative. The goal of both programs is to enable domestic violence victims to remain in their homes by providing additional safety and security measures. Through ATS, victims of domestic violence who have obtained full orders of protection are provided with a free home alarm system, a cellular telephone pre-programmed to 911, caller identification, an answering machine and a complement of support services that includes full-time case management, counseling and referrals. The Police Department gives ATS alarms priority status and police officers in ATS participating precincts receive special training tailored to the program. The Mayor announced the citywide expansion of ATS last March.

Citywide Public Education Campaign

The City's fourth domestic violence public education campaign represents the many faces of domestic violence and re-emphasizes the fundamental message that domestic violence is a crime, while providing the 24-hour hotline number for domestic violence victims, 1-800-621-HOPE.

The advertising campaign alerts the public to the prevalence of domestic violence -- the hotline received 84,000 calls last year alone -- and encourages victims to seek help.

The posters, which are on buses and run the length of the interior of subway cars throughout the City, depict the battered and bruised faces of domestic violence victims (actors) with a time stamp underneath each face. Each successive picture in the series displays a time twelve seconds later than the preceding picture, reinforcing the message that another woman is physically abused every twelve seconds. By utilizing mass transit, the compelling posters will be viewed by millions of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.

"Public education is fundamental to changing society's attitude toward domestic violence. This dramatic campaign reaches out to victims in need of help, while increasing awareness and education throughout our communities," said Dr. Maria K. Mitchell, Chair of the Mayor's Commission to Combat Family Violence. "Every twelve seconds another woman is beaten by her boyfriend or husband, and the campaign features our message that 'Violence is Violence and Violence is a Crime.'"

The world renowned advertising company, Young & Rubicam Inc., has designed the City's domestic violence campaigns since 1994, including the most recent public education campaign, which was made possible through a generous contribution from the Starr Foundation.

Family Literacy Program

Through a private/public partnership with the J.M. Kaplan Foundation and Scholastic Inc., the City will initiate a family literacy pilot program in both domestic violence and homeless shelters. The J.M. Kaplan Foundation is providing $300,000 to fund this new initiative and Scholastic Inc. will donate books and other resources. User-friendly libraries will be constructed in the shelters, stacked with diverse, age-appropriate books. Shelter residents will be encouraged to participate in the actual creation of the libraries and receive training in maintaining the books and acting as "shelter librarians." Individual and group literacy instruction will be offered to both parents and children inside the shelters. The family literacy project will also promote literacy beyond a family's stay in a shelter by providing residents with a listing of local libraries and library resources throughout the City upon their discharge.

The goal of this initiative is to improve the literacy skills of both parents and children and to engage them in a positive education experience. Administered by the Human Resources Administration and the Division of Homeless Services, the family literacy program will be introduced in three of the City's domestic violence shelters and two of the City's homeless shelters in the Bronx and Manhattan. One Family Literacy Coordinator, with expertise in early childhood programming and reading, will tailor the family literacy program to the individual needs of each shelter.

Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Martin Oesterreich said, "I applaud the efforts of the J.M. Kaplan Fund and, their partner in this endeavor, Scholastic Inc., for this very important program to improve the literacy of our shelter residents. It is only through education and hard work that the cycle of poverty, despair and homelessness can be broken."

Human Resources Administration Commissioner Jason Turner said, "HRA is enthusiastic about partnering with the private sector to provide additional services to parents and children in the City's shelters. It is vital that we help families gain knowledge and opportunities that will increase their overall ability to become self-sufficient."

Rhea Mallett, Executive Director of the Mayor's Commission to Combat Family Violence, said, "These three new programs will complement and enhance the City's overall domestic violence strategy to reduce incidents of domestic violence, provide services for victims and their families, hold offenders accountable for their crimes, and increase public awareness."

Joining the Mayor were Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes; NYS Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman; Senior Advisor to the Mayor Anthony P. Coles; Criminal Justice Coordinator Steven Fishner; New York City Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir; Department of Probation Commissioner Raul Russi Human Resources Administration Commissioner Jason Turner; Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Martin Oesterreich; Mayor's Commission to Combat Family Violence Chair Dr. Maria K. Mitchell and Executive Director Rhea N. Mallett; J.M. Kaplan Fund Trustee Peter Davidson; and Young & Rubicam Advertising Company Senior Vice President Ilene Rosenthal.

Some of the City's other domestic violence initiatives include: