July 10, 2012
|SSWA Task Force Reports 43 Designated Waiting Areas
The Separate and Secure Waiting Area Task Force this week submitted its Final Implementation Plan to the Legislature. Task Force Co-chairs Chief Justice of the Trial Court Robert Mulligan and Mass. Office of Victim Assistance Executive Director Janet Fine were pleased to report that 43 SSWAs now are operational and comply with the updated SSWA provision of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights. Only four courthouses had designated areas prior to this initiative.
The plan details the results of the 91 court-by-court assessments conducted by the Task Force in the court locations that conduct criminal business. It provides the compliance status of each court and any next steps needed for courts to achieve compliance. In 47 courthouses there will be some type of follow-up prior to a final SSWA designation.
The co-chairs expressed the Task Force’s appreciation for the support and cooperation provided by numerous court and other local personnel, including victim witness advocates in the District Attorneys’ Offices, throughout the Commonwealth. “The gratifying efforts of the court assessment teams enabled this excellent progress in implementing SSWAs in courthouses that lacked this critical resource, bringing us significantly closer to fulfilling this statutory right for crime victims and witnesses.”
They also commended the extraordinary dedication of the Task Force members, noting that “the Task Force’s diligence in this statewide effort made it possible to complete this challenging project in an effective, timely manner.”
Chief Justice Mulligan and Janet Fine extended sincere thanks to the many participants in this successful project for their extraordinary collaboration. They indicated that they expect continued progress in achieving the goal of full compliance and will provide the Legislature with an updated annual progress report in July 2013.