BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”






                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                             Senator Noreen Evans, Chair
                              2011-2012 Regular Session


          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          As Amended May 2, 2011
          Hearing Date: May 10, 2011
          Fiscal: No
          Urgency: No
          EDO
                    

                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                               Family Justice Centers

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would authorize local governments to establish family 
          justice centers (FJC) and allow for the FJCs to be staffed by, 
          among others, law enforcement, medical, social service, and 
          child welfare personnel.  This bill would also authorize the FJC 
          to share information between the partner agencies after 
          obtaining informed consent from the victims seeking services. 

                                      BACKGROUND  

          The Family Justice Center (FJC) model was originally developed 
          in San Diego, which opened a center in 2002.  The idea behind 
          the FJC model is to create a coordinated, single-point-of-access 
          center offering comprehensive services for victims of domestic 
          violence, thereby reducing the number of locations a victim must 
          visit in order to receive critical services.  The United States 
          Department of Justice, through its Office on Violence Against 
          Women (OVW), has identified the Family Justice Center model as a 
          best practice in the field of domestic violence.  According to 
          the OVW, documented and public FJC outcomes include a reduction 
          in the rate of homicide; increased victim safety; improved 
          offender prosecution; reduced fear and anxiety for victims and 
          their children; increased efficiency among service providers 
          through the provision of collaborative victims; and increased 
          community support for the provision of services and their 
          children.  (Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack, Hope for Hurting 
          Families:  Creating Family Justice Centers Across America, 
          Volcano Press, 2006.)  There are currently fifteen family 
                                                                (more)



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 2 of ?



          justice centers in California and over seventy centers in the 
          United States. 

          This bill would define in law the family justice center (FJC) 
          model and authorize local governments to create a FJC in their 
          communities, as well as require each FJC to maintain an informed 
          consent policy to authorize the sharing of information among the 
          agencies working within the FJC. 
                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  , the California Constitution, declares that the 
          right to privacy is an inalienable right.  (Cal. Const., art. I, 
          sec. 1.)

           Existing federal law  , the Health Insurance Portability and 
          Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires that medical 
          information be kept confidential unless authorized by the 
          patient.  Existing law allows for disclosure to law enforcement 
          personnel for specified purposes.  (Pub. Law 104-191; 45 CFR 
          160, 164.)

           Existing law  provides that a victim of domestic violence has a 
          privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from 
          disclosing, a confidential communication between the victim and 
          a domestic violence counselor.  (Evid. Code Sec. 1037.5.)

           Existing law  provides for the establishment of community-based 
          domestic violence victim shelters and services.  (Welf. & Inst. 
          Code Secs. 18290-18309.5.)

          Existing law  provides for the California Emergency Management 
          Agency (CalEMA) to provide grants to proposed and existing child 
          sexual exploitation and child sexual abuse victim counseling 
          centers and prevention programs, including programs for minor 
          victims of human trafficking.  (Pen. Code Sec. 13837.)

           Existing law  provides that child protective services agencies, 
          law enforcement, prosecution, child abuse and domestic violence 
          experts, and community-based organizations serving abused 
          children and victims of domestic violence shall develop, in 
          collaboration with one another, protocols as to how law 
          enforcement and child welfare agencies will cooperate in their 
          response to incidents of domestic violence in homes in which a 
          child resides.  (Pen. Code Sec. 13732.)

           This bill  would define the Family Justice Center (FJC) model in 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 3 of ?



          the law and expand the reach for whom services will be provided 
          to include, not only victims of domestic violence, but also 
          victims of officer-involved domestic violence, sexual assault, 
          elder abuse, stalking, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and human 
          trafficking.  This bill would also allow for the FJCs to be 
          staffed by, among others, law enforcement, medical, social 
          service, and child welfare personnel.  

           This bill  would also provide that victims of crime will not be 
          denied services based solely on the grounds of criminal history. 
           

           This bill  would require each FJC to develop policies and 
          procedures to enhance the safety of the victims and 
          professionals at the FJC. This bill would require each FJC to 
          maintain an informed consent policy for the purpose of sharing 
          confidential and privileged information among the partner 
          agencies in the FJC.  This bill would require that at no time 
          will a victim be required to sign the informed consent policy 
          and that the informed consent policy must be in compliance with 
          all other state and federal laws. 
           This bill  would provide that the victim's consent to share 
          information is not a waiver of confidentiality or privilege held 
          by the victim.

           This bill  would require all FJC professionals to be formally 
          trained in victim confidentiality and information sharing.
          
                                        COMMENT
           
          1.  Stated need for the bill  
          
          The author writes:
          
            SB 557 would define Family Justice Centers in state law and 
            thereby recognize the growing trend toward innovative, 
            multi-disciplinary, multi-agency service delivery models for 
            victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, and 
            human trafficking.

            In addition, this bill clarifies that the current protections 
            of victim's confidentiality continue even if a 
            multi-disciplinary team is working with the victim to enhance 
            safety and support that there is no universal waiver of 
            confidentiality in relation to third parties not involved in 
            the safety services being provided. 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 4 of ?




            Family Justice Centers are a growing trend of providing 
            domestic violence, elder abuse and sexual assault services but 
            there are no standards set for what a family justice center 
            should offer, no uniformity, ›and] no standards on 
            confidentiality. . . 
          
          2.  This bill raises concerns regarding the sharing of victim 
            information  

          The doctrine of informed consent originated in the medical 
          community and was meant to reconcile a person's inherent right 
          to decide what happened to his or her body and the doctor's duty 
          to provide the patient with enough information to make that 
          determination.  As applied to this bill, informed consent would 
          mean the right of the victim seeking services to share 
          personally identifying information with the partner agencies and 
          the duty of the FJC to provide enough information for the victim 
          to determine whether or not he or she wants to share that 
          information.  This bill would also require each FJC to maintain 
          a formal and mandatory training program for all staff members 
          that includes confidentiality and information sharing.  

          According to the sponsor, "the heart of an FJC is sharing 
          critical information authorized to be shared by the victim . . . 
          The primary information shared in FJC's is demographic 
          information so the victim does not have to give her basic 
          information over and over to 25 partner agencies.  She also gets 
          to choose who gets to see her demographic information among the 
          agencies in a Center.  The intake process includes risk 
          assessment and safety planning . . . Later, after the intake 
          process is completed, she gets to choose what incident-based 
          information she wants to share and who she wants to share it 
          with.  At times, the sharing of information is critical to 
          keeping her alive in high risk cases.  The 'informed' part of 
          the consent process is about advising the victim on the impacts 
          and ramifications of sharing information."  In response to staff 
          inquiries regarding the use of the information shared and the 
          potential for the information to be used against the victim, the 
          sponsor responded "we are not aware of any examples of victims 
          being prosecuted in Centers in California after coming forward 
          for help and disclosing certain information, but it is an issue 
          that we have to be aware of and sensitive to especially with 
          mandated reporters in Centers."  

          The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 5 of ?



          (Partnership) is opposed to this bill and raises concerns with 
          the sharing of confidential and privileged information among the 
          partner agencies.  While the goal is to help the victims receive 
          the services necessary, there is always concern when domestic 
          violence victims share their names and addresses.  Special 
          programs have been created in the law to protect the identity 
          and addresses of victims of domestic violence.  SB 1491 (Kuehl, 
          Chapter 54, Statutes of 2006) prohibited any entity that awards 
          grants to victim service providers from requesting or requiring, 
          the personally identifying information of victims of domestic 
          violence, and other specified groups as a condition of the 
          award.  SB 1491 also prohibited the use of computer programs or 
          systems that require the disclosure of that personally 
          identifying information.  The author of SB 1491 argued at the 
          time "that studies show individuals can often be located through 
          the release of limited information, including gender and place 
          and date of birth." And a supporter of SB 1491, Calegislation, 
          added "that even including victims' personal information in a 
          database can place victims at a heightened risk of 
          re-victimization because the database may be subject to computer 
          hacking or a record breach."

          The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) and the American Civil 
          Liberties Union (ACLU) also oppose this bill and raise concerns 
          regarding the sharing of confidential information.  PRC writes 
          "we are concerned with the sharing of victims' 'confidential, 
          privileged, or protected' information among the various social 
          services, law enforcement, or nonprofit organizations in a 
          'family justice center' with the implementation of an 'informed 
          client consent policy.'  Such broad sharing of information could 
          serve as a 'chilling effect' for individuals seeking such vital 
          services.  It should be possible to offer these services without 
          widely sharing this sensitive and highly protected information."

          (See Comment 3 for suggested amendments to address these 
          concerns.)

          3.  This bill raises concerns regarding defining the Family 
            Justice Center (FJC) model in the law  

          Currently, there are fifteen FJCs in California.  There are also 
          over 100 domestic violence shelters in California and another 
          100 community-based organizations in California that provide 
          similar services as the shelters.  This bill would authorize 
          local governments to establish a multi-agency, 
          multi-disciplinary family justice center to assist victims of 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 6 of ?



          domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, sexual 
          assault, elder abuse, stalking, cyber-stalking, cyberbullying, 
          and human trafficking.  The stated purpose of the FJC is to 
          allow victims to be able to access all of the needed services in 
          one location.  

          The sponsor of this bill, the National Family Justice Center 
          Alliance, notes that "the California Legislature has recognized 
          Child Advocacy Centers, Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams, 
          and other forms of multi-disciplinary intervention in family 
          violence but has never recognized Family Justice Centers."  The 
          sponsor argues that the purpose of the FJC is to bring all of 
          the services for these vulnerable victims under one roof.  The 
          sponsor contends that "victims are often required to travel from 
          location to location to seek services that are scattered through 
          a community or region.  They have to tell their story over and 
          over again to staff members representing agencies, such as, law 
          enforcement, courts, civil legal, medical, transportation, 
          housing, social services, mental health, rehabilitation, 
          financial assistance, and many more.  The criminal justice 
          system unintentionally makes it easy for victims to become 
          frustrated and ultimately stop seeking help.  Faced with so many 
          obstacles, victims often return to their abuser rather than 
          obtaining the necessary services." 

          In opposition to the bill, the Partnership to End Domestic 
          Violence (Partnership) has several concerns about authorizing 
          local governments to establish the FJC model.  The Partnership 
          argues that:

            California should be consistent with Federal statute and not 
            promote, define or authorize the establishment of a Family 
            Justice Center model over other models as SB 557 would do if 
            passed.  Although SB 557 is intended to promote victim safety 
            and batterer accountability by defining Family Justice Centers 
            in state statute, the Partnership strongly believes that the 
            decision to establish Family Justice Centers, or any other 
            type of multi-agency service-delivery program, should reside 
            at the local level.  Because a majority of Family Justice 
            Centers are primarily led by members of the criminal justice 
            systems, it is crucial that cities and counties continue to 
            seek input and consultation for community-based victim 
            services providers, including representatives from domestic 
            violence crisis and advocacy centers.  We have heard from 
            local advocates that, 'One size does not fit all.'  For 
            example, rather than a one-stop shop, San Francisco has opted 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 7 of ?



            not to establish an FJC, based on local DV program input and 
            desire to coordinate services and work to build mutually 
            respectful relationships with the Criminal Legal System, but 
            keep their services separate and equal. 

          The Partnership has also expressed concerns regarding the 
          availability of funding.  The partnership states that:

            In communities where FJCs have been created, local providers 
            of domestic violence services and shelters are reporting 
            having to compete with FJCs for available funds. While this 
            bill does not seek funding for FJCs, service providers know 
            that there will be future attempts at tapping into already 
            thin funding available for services to crime victims which 
            could divert funding from local non-profits to cities and 
            counties.  The passage of SB 557 would appear to be a state 
            endorsement of a Family Justice Center Model, which will lead 
            to future collaborations that are more innovative or locally 
            relevant to lose out because they are not in state statute. 
            While we have seen some successful Family Justice Centers, 
            there are many that have problematic practices, such as 
            background checks and arrest of victims with warrants, and 
            violation of victims' rights to confidentiality and privilege. 
             Furthermore, as a statewide coalition representing many 
            groups, including multidisciplinary, multiservice agencies, it 
            is a direct conflict of interest for the Partnership to 
            promote one service model over another.

          In response to these concerns and the concerns discussed above 
          relating to the sharing of confidential information, the 
          committee should consider limiting the bill to a two-year pilot 
          project in selected cities and counties in order to study and 
          address the concerns that have been raised.  In order to help 
          address the significant privacy concerns raised by this bill, 
          the committee should also consider involving the California 
          Office of Privacy Protection to ensure that the informed consent 
          process being used by the currently operating FJCs for 
          confidential victim information sharing is providing sufficient 
          protection for victims' privacy and safety. 

             Suggested amendments:

              1.   On page 2, line 6, insert "13750. (a) The City of San 
               Diego, the City of Anaheim, the County of Alameda, and the 
               County of Sonoma shall be authorized to create a two-year 
               pilot project for the establishment of a Family Justice 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 8 of ?



               Center in accordance with the provisions of this Section 
               and Section 13751."

             2.   On page 2, line 6, strike out "A city, county, or city 
               and county" and insert "The City of San Diego, the City of 
               Anaheim, the County of Alameda, and the County of Sonoma"

             3.   On page 3, line 4, strike out "a city, county, or city 
               and county" and insert "the City of San Diego, the City of 
               Anaheim, the County of Alameda, and the County of Sonoma"

             4.   On page 6, line 8, strike out "in order to authorize the 
               sharing of confidential, " and lines 9 through 13 inclusive 
               and on line 14 strike out "affiliated with the family 
               justice center. However" 

             5.   On page 6, line 8 after "policy" insert "and shall be in 
               compliance with all state and federal laws protecting the 
               confidentiality of the types of information and documents 
               that may be in a victim's file, including, but not limited 
               to, medical and legal records."

             6.   On page 6, line 14 strike out "at" and insert "At".

             7.   On page 6, line 16, strike out "The informed consent" 
               and lines 17 through 20 inclusive.

             8.   On page 6, line 25, insert "(j) The Office of Privacy 
               Protection in conjunction with the four pilot Centers, the 
               National Family Justice Center Alliance, and relevant 
               stakeholders shall develop best practices to ensure the 
               privacy of all Family Justice Center clients and shall 
               submit a report to the Assembly and Senate Committees on 
               Judiciary, no later than January 1, 2013, with 
               recommendations."

             9.   On page 6, after the previous above paragraph insert 
               "(k) This section shall remain in effect only until January 
               1, 2014, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later 
               enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2014, 
               deletes or extends that date."

             10.  On page 6, line 32, insert, "(k) This section shall 
               remain in effect only until January 1, 2014, and as of that 
               date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is 
               enacted before January 1, 2014, deletes or extends that 
                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 9 of ?



               date."


           Support  :  City Attorney of San Diego; Community Service Programs 
          Victim Assistance Programs; Family Justice Center Sonoma County; 
          Family Justice Center Legal Network; Fresno Police Department 
          Domestic Violence Unit; Office of the District Attorney County 
          of Shasta; Office of the District Attorney of Stanislaus County; 
          San Diego District Attorney; San Diego Police Department; Shasta 
          Family Justice Center; Stanislaus Family Justice Center

           Opposition  :  ACLU (unless amended); Asian Women Speak-Asian and 
          Pacific Islander Advocates against Domestic Violence; California 
          Partnership to End Domestic Violence; Casa de Esperanza; 
          Interval House Crisis Shelters & Centers for Victims of Domestic 
          Violence; Hermanas Latino Advocates Against Domestic Violence; 
          Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (unless amended); Rainbow Services; 
          Salaam Middle Eastern Advocates Against Domestic Violence; 
          Slavic Voices-Slavic advocates against Domestic Violence; The 
          African American Network for Violence Free Relationships; The 
          Center Long Beach (LGBT victim support services); Women Shelter 
          of Long Beach.

                                        HISTORY
           
           Source  :  National Family Justice Center Alliance

           Related Pending Legislation  :  None Known

           Prior Legislation  :

          SB 914 (Bowen, Chapter 840, Statutes of 2004) among other 
          things, stated the intent of the Legislature that victims' 
          services programs that were administered by the Office of 
          Criminal Justice Planning be temporarily redirected to the 
          Office of Emergency Services, and that certain programs 
          involving domestic violence and sexual assault be permanently 
          consolidated in one office, branch, or department.

          SB 1745 (Polanco, Chapter 187, Statutes of 2002) required child 
          protective services, law enforcement agencies, and others to 
          develop protocols in collaboration with one another, as 
          specified, as to how law enforcement and child welfare agencies 
          will cooperate in their response to a domestic violence related 
          incident in a home in which a child resides.

                                                                      



          SB 557 (Kehoe)
          Page 10 of ?



          SB 425 (Torlakson, Chapter 90, Statutes of 2001) authorized a 
          pilot program in Contra Costa County, allowing the county to 
          provide governmental oversight and coordination of domestic 
          violence prevention, intervention, and prosecution efforts 
          within the county.

           Prior Vote  :  Senate Committee on Public Safety (Ayes 6, Noes 0)

                                   **************