July 2, 2013
|SSWA Task Force Reports 73 Designated Waiting Areas
The Separate and Secure Waiting Area Task Force yesterday submitted its latest Implementation Progress Report to the Legislature. Task Force Co-chairs Chief Justice of the Trial Court Robert A. Mulligan and Mass. Office of Victim Assistance Executive Director Liam T. Lowney reported that 73 SSWAs now are designated pursuant to the updated SSWA provision of the Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights. Only four courthouses had designated areas prior to the commencement of this initiative in 2011.
The report 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 18 courthouses, additional follow-up is required prior to a final SSWA designation.
The Facilities Management Department of the Trial Court has begun renovation projects that can be completed "in house" and has begun to solicit bids for the larger projects to continue the momentum in designating spaces in courthouses that require substantial renovation or construction.
Chief Justice Mulligan and Mr. Lowney expressed their appreciation for the extraordinary cooperation provided statewide by judges, clerks, chief probation officers and other local personnel, including victim witness advocates in the District Attorneys' Offices, despite the physical limitations and resource capacities in the courthouses.
"The efforts of the Task Force members and the local teams have been critical to the progress made thus far," they noted in their report and they indicated that they expect continued progress in achieving the goal of full compliance. The Trial Court will provide the Legislature with an updated progress report in January 2014.
The report is available here.