Family Justice Center opens on July 1

On Aug. 1, a group of hard-working individuals began the arduous task of cleaning and repairing a county-owned building which had stood empty for a long time. That structure would come to house the Claiborne Family Justice Center, now officially open to help crime victims navigate the legal process. It is the second Center to be opened under the umbrella of the Office of the 8th Judicial District – a first for the state.

The Center, officially opening for business on July 1, is a community-wide collaboration of public and private agencies who normally respond to abuse and sexual assault cases. All these services are now accessible under one roof. A multi-disciplinary team comprised of specialized professionals will ensure that all victims are given access to the best services during their time of need.

Bobbie Womack, who is the site coordinator, spoke of the Center during a previous interview.

“We will have an assistant district attorney, an investigator from the Sheriff’s Office and a victim advocate all on site. We’ll have a navigator that will walk the victims through the process from day one until it’s over. We will also have someone on standby from the new shelter and legal aid during certain days of the week.”

Womack says the Center will be able to provide Orders of Protection as well.

“Rather than them having to go to a clerk’s office, they will come in to the Family Justice Center and fill out the paperwork, which we will help them do.

“The way it’s working now, the clerk’s office doesn’t have the time to help them fill it out. We will then be the middle man in getting that to the judge so that they don’t have to worry about being in court and possibly running into the perpetrator,” said Womack.

She says she envisions a calming environment for the victims.

“A unique thing about the Family Justice Center is, instead of the victims having to go to the Sheriff’s Office or police department, officers will come there. We will have a den where the victim can sit and all the services will come to them. The den will be a comfortable, low-lit setting where they’ll be able to talk in privacy within a family-friendly environment.”

Womack says she is very grateful for the support felt from the community.

“Our grand opening was a testament to this support and we could not be happier to begin providing services to our community. We look forward to working with our partner agencies to ensure the safety of victims in Claiborne County. With the opening of the Family Justice Center, victims now have a safe place where they can receive services and the needed support to overcome their abuse and begin to heal.”

The Family Justice Center is currently funded by federal grants. An initial $240,000 JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) got the ball rolling by providing funding for the three-year project to bring the Center to the county.

Monetary donations are gratefully accepted as are hygiene products and other necessary items.

For more information, contact Womack at: sitecoordinatorfjc@claibornecountytn.gov or call 423-919-8012.