|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy today announced the recipients of the 2016 Crime Victim Advocacy Awards, as part of the celebration of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Lougy honored the recipients last week at a ceremony held at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton. The event brought together advocates and victims of crime to recognize their combined efforts throughout the year to continue the healing process in the wake of tragedy. This year’s national theme was “Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.” The national theme serves to highlight the importance of early intervention, through the immediate provision of victim services, in establishing trust with victims. It is this foundational trust that restores a victim’s hope and leads them more quickly to the path of healing and recovery.
“Through their tireless efforts, these crime victim advocates change the landscape every day in communities throughout the state,” said Acting Attorney General Lougy. “From making sure that a grieving family can navigate through the criminal justice system to providing crime victims with all the care and compassion they need to get back on their feet, these honorees are pillars of strength for countless individuals.”
“Last year, our Division of Criminal Justice helped serve the needs of more than 92,000 individual crime victims,” said Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig. “The gamut of victims who received help ranged from homicide survivors to the victims of elder abuse and domestic violence, and from robbery victims to those harmed by DUI drivers and children who’d been physically or sexually abused. Likewise, the help provided to crime victims took many forms, including crisis counseling, emergency legal advocacy and the provision of safe shelter, to name just a few.”
Acting Attorney General Lougy and Director Honig bestowed awards to the following advocates:
CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS AWARD
Director of Domestic Violence Services, WomenRising, Hudson County
Coughlan has been assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in her community for more than 23 years. In her career, Ms. Coughlin has worked for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Jersey City Police Department and WomenRising. In all of her roles, she has directly helped hundreds of victims to understand their options, receive the counseling they need and be provided with the best resources possible. Coughlan is currently the Director of Domestic Violence Services at WomenRising and an Executive Board Member of the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
Kristie Baker Gardner
Victim Witness Advocate, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office
Kristie Baker Gardner has been a Victim Witness Advocate for the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office for 22 years. A firm believer in continuing education, Gardner has obtained certification in Crisis Response from The Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), completed the Crisis Counselor Volunteer Training from the Women’s Center of Atlantic County, and completed numerous post-graduate courses, seminars, and classes in areas of victim support, domestic violence, and family crisis. At the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Gardner has had a critical role in developing the Juvenile Unit and Domestic Violence Unit. Currently, she is a Victim Advocate in the Special Victims Unit.
Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor, Union County Prosecutor’s Office
Luvera is currently the Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor for the Union County Prosecutor’s Office. She has been prosecuting criminals and assisting crime victims with the Prosecutor’s Office since 1990. As Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor, Luvera is responsible for supervising the Homicide Task Force, Special Victims Unit, Special Prosecutions Unit and Domestic Violence Unit. Throughout her 26 year career, Luvera has continued to represent the most vulnerable victims of crime and their families. During the last fifteen years, she has concentrated her efforts on seeking justice on behalf of women and children of homicide victims.
RONALD W. REAGAN AWARD
180 Turning Lives Around, Monmouth County
Award accepted by Associate Director Liz Graham
180 Turning Lives Around operates a new domestic violence emergency shelter. With nearly double the capacity of its former shelter, ADA features throughout the building, and private bathrooms in each bedroom, the new facility now allows 180 to be more inclusive. They are able to house more than 260 victims each year (as opposed to 140 – 160 previously), and this number will include physically disabled victims, as well as adult male victims - two populations the previous shelter could not accommodate. At 17,000 square feet, it is the largest shelter in New Jersey. The women, men, and children who stay with 180 not only receive shelter and immediate refuge from danger, but supportive services aimed at empowering them to move on to safer, permanent housing.
Serving Monmouth County for nearly 40 years, 180 works along with its community partners, law enforcement and supportive agencies to stem the perpetuation of these crimes through trainings and outreach activities. Empowerment of victims allows them to become survivors through counseling/support groups, emergency/transitional housing and court advocacy.
Since 1976, 180 has assisted more than 1 million individuals, helping countless of them to heal from trauma, go back to school, find jobs, secure permanent housing, and finally live free from violence. 180 is the only agency in the county to offer this scope of service and advocacy. With its clients and partners, 180 is working to ensure all victims can establish a life free from violence and homelessness.