Safe haven locations in NJ would expand under bill
A shocking tragedy that took place earlier this month in New Jersey has one lawmaker calling on her colleagues to approve a measure that would expand the state's safe haven locations.
On Jan. 16, 22-year-old Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier allegedly set her baby on fire in the middle of a Pemberton Township road. When police arrived, they found a neighbor holding Dorvilier down on the ground and the baby wrapped in a smoldering towel and paper, according to court documents released by Burlington County prosecutors on Jan. 20. The baby was alive and breathing when she was flown to a hospital in Philadelphia, but died two hours later, according to authorities.
Dorvilier has been charged with murder.
"The tragic situation in Burlington County really led to me thinking we need to expand the number of safe havens that we have in New Jersey," said Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Ocean). "Currently anybody can take an infant to hospitals and to police stations, but I felt very strongly that there needs to be an expansion of sites where distraught people can take an infant before another tragedy occurs."
Under the current "New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act," safe haven options are limited to emergency departments of general hospitals and state, county and municipal police stations where someone can leave a baby - no questions asked.
"I want to expand the law to include first aid squads, fire stations, any place that is manned 24 hours by emergency personnel," Angelini explained.
The legislation was first introduced in 2006. It has been approved by committees in the past, but never passed by the full Legislature. Angelini has been a sponsor for the last two years and said she is very surprised that the latest version of the bill has not even been considered by a committee.
"So many times we are legislating through reaction to an occurrence, but this is something that I've been working on for the last couple of years," Angelini said.