A Sea Change

For HomeFront

On June 25 we held our wall-breaking ceremony at the new HomeFront Family Campus, our official and public announcement of our plans for the 8.5-acre decommissioned Naval base in Ewing Township that HomeFront was given last fall. And it was a historic day in so many ways. It was a day that will change this organization forever but, more importantly it was a day that marked the beginning of a sea change in how homeless and vulnerable families in our community will be served.

This will truly be a one-stop social service campus, unlike anything else in New Jersey and the entire Northeast, with 38 dorm suites to offer safe haven to homeless families; a 24-hour child care center; partner agencies like Womanspace and Family Guidance on-site; HomeFront’s stellar programming, from job training to ArtSpace, expanded to help even more families; and the space and resources to add new programs like a teaching kitchen.

You can learn more about the HomeFront Family Campus at www.HomeFrontNJ.org.

During the ceremony, Celia Bernstein (HomeFront’s director of operations) and I were pleased when Jennifer Velez, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, called us both warriors in the fight against family homelessness. Because this is a fight that we have been committed for over two decades and it is a fight that we will continue to wage until all families, all children in our community have what they need to ensure bright and productive futures.

It is also a fight we could not even fathom undertaking without our “army” of caring, strong and supportive friends like you. Thank you.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director

Ignition Interlock

Bill Advances

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) thanks the New Jersey Assembly for advancing ignition interlock bill, A 1368. Introduced by Assemblywoman Stender, A 1368 will require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, including all first-time offenders. Companion legislation S 385 by Senator Scutari is pending in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Similar legislation has been passed in 23 states and these states have recognized a significant reduction in drunk driving deaths.

MADD believes ignition interlocks for all offenders is the best solution to eliminate drunk driving across the nation. New Jersey lawmakers have the opportunity to advance this lifesaving legislation that will protect the public from drunk drivers.

Drunk driving is a violent crime. And drunk deaths are 100 percent preventable. Yet in 2012, 164 people in New Jersey were killed in crashes caused by a drunk driver — 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. In addition to the extraordinary emotional burden for victims, drunk driving deaths are an unnecessary economic hardship for New Jersey, costing the state and taxpayers $1.1 billion in 2012.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that requiring interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers is effective in reducing drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent and that license suspension is not a practical way to deal with drunk drivers, as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive with a suspended driver’s license. The first-time convicted DUI offender is also not a first time drunk driver but has on average driven drunk at least 80 times prior to their arrest.

Currently in New Jersey, interlocks are required for all repeat and first-time convicted drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater. Passage of A 1368/S 385 would require a first-time convicted drunk driver with a BAC of .08 to .14 to use an ignition interlock for a period of three to twelve months. The last third of the interlock sentence must be violation free or the offender will have the interlock time extended. Interlocked offenders are able to drive to their jobs and provide for their families while separating alcohol from driving behavior.

MADD’s number one legislative priority is to pass lifesaving laws to ensure the public’s safety and eliminate drunk driving. A 1368/S 385 makes sense, and we urge the Senate to pass this legislation. Ignition interlocks for all offenders will save lives.

For more information on interlocks, please www.madd.org/interlock.

Jan Withers

MADD National President

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