Tennessee Moves Forward On Family Justice Center Effort

Effort To Help Combat Domestic Violence, Provide More Support For Victims

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons on Tuesday announced significant progress in a statewide effort to help reduce incidents of domestic violence in Tennessee by increasing the number of family justice centers as a means of providing more support to victims of violence. Tennessee is the first state to prioritize federal grant funding, through its Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP), to establish a statewide family justice center initiative. The effort is a major part of Governor Haslam’s Public Safety Action Plan.

Commissioner Gibbons made the announcement at a training conference at the Knoxville Family Justice Center for organizers of centers planned for Chattanooga, Cookeville, and Nashville. Commissioner Gibbons was joined by OCJP Director Bill Scollon, Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols, District Attorney Randy York of Putnam County, and the directors of the family justice centers in Knoxville and Memphis. The Office of Criminal Justice Programs and the Knoxville Family Justice Center hosted the training. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero participated in the training earlier in the day.

“While reported domestic violence incidents in Tennessee are down more than 10 percent compared to last year, domestic violence continues to make up a large percentage of all reported violent crimes, with over 50,000 incidents already reported this year. We know that in order to reduce crime in our state, we have to reduce violence in the home.  Expanding the number of family safety centers is one of the steps in the Governor’s Public Safety Action Plan to get us to that goal and help make Tennessee safer,” Commissioner Gibbons said. Mr. Gibbons heads the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, through August of this year, preliminary figures show 50,370 reported domestic violence offenses compared to 56,451 through August of 2012 (10.8 percent decrease).

Family justice centers provide victims of domestic violence with a single location to access safety, advocacy, justice, and other services necessary to end the cycle of violence in the home. Using a coordinated, comprehensive approach to family violence, these types of centers bring many agencies and organizations under one roof and become “one-stop-shops” to provide help for victims and their children. The basic partners normally include law enforcement, prosecutors, civil legal service providers, and community-based advocates.

The Family Justice Center Alliance reports a significant reduction in the number of homicides in communities with family justice centers, including New York; Rockville, Md.; and San Diego. The Alliance also states that victims have felt enhanced safety, greater autonomy and empowerment, and less fear and anxiety for themselves and their children. Centers provide more efficiency and coordination among service providers, better prosecution of offenders, and increased support services to victims and their children.

The Knoxville Family Justice Center was the first such center in Tennessee, founded in 2006.  The Family Safety Center in Memphis opened in 2012. The OCJP has awarded grant funding to organizers in Chattanooga, Cookeville, and Nashville to help establish family justice centers in those communities.  The grants provide funding for a two-year planning process and the first year of operations for the centers.


Cleveland State To Offer Affordable Health Care Enrollment Workshop On Saturday

The Office of Community Relations and Special Programs at Cleveland State Community College is partnering with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to offer an Affordable Health Care Enrollment Workshop on Saturday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in Room 120 of the CSCC library. The purpose of this event is to allow people to gain information about the various health insurance options available, ... (click for more)

Erlanger Offers Classes And Events For Feb. 2-8

Erlanger offers online childbirth education class.  The online class is an easy-to-understand interactive program that includes more than 70 videos, animated illustrations, downloadable PDF files, review quizzes and information specific to Erlanger East and Erlanger Baroness birthing services.  By choosing the online childbirth program, participants will have access to ... (click for more)

6,533 Apply For Chattanooga Housing Authority Voucher Program

The Chattanooga Housing Authority closed its Housing Choice Voucher Program application process Monday at 11:59 p.m. There were 6,533 applicants. CHA will randomly select 1,000 of those names on Monday, for the voucher program waiting list. Anyone who is not selected will need to apply again in the future.  The Housing Choice Voucher program is a federal government program ... (click for more)

Times Free Press Pays Bonuses, Has Layoffs

The Chattanooga Times Free Press told employees on Monday that the newspaper had improved financial performance over the prior year quarters and employees were receiving two percent bonuses. Sources said at the same time, the newspaper announced some layoffs. Those include four people in the newsroom and an unspecified number in other departments. Bruce Hartmann, president, ... (click for more)

We Need The Chattanooga History Center

Having been on several of Dr. Daryl Black's walking tours, I can say that they weren't just informative, but a treat. The downtown, Fort Wood and Ninth Street of yesteryear were brought dramatically to life. We stood on the ground where Sherman had his headquarters (near the Ice Cream Show) and the corner where Bessie Smith sang as a young girl. And we also stood beneath the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: He’s Exempt From Drunk

I love the old story about a popular Senator who, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, was asked late one evening, “Sir, what if we get bombed?” to which came the quick reply, “I’d be absolutely delighted … I can get one of my aides to drive us home afterwards.” You think of stuff like that when word comes from Kentucky that state legislator Brandon Smith was caught driving erratically ... (click for more)