Tennessee to open three new family justice centers

Tennessee to open three new family justice centers modeled after Knoxville's

Posted:
State officials announced Tuesday the addition of three new family justice centers across the state, which will be places for victims of domestic violence to go for help. State officials announced Tuesday the addition of three new family justice centers across the state, which will be places for victims of domestic violence to go for help.
The centers serve as a safe place for victims to go, helping them break free of the violence once and for all. The centers serve as a safe place for victims to go, helping them break free of the violence once and for all.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - State leaders are working harder than ever to curb the domestic violence problem that's plaguing many Tennessee families.

Officials announced Tuesday the addition of three new family justice centers across the state, which will be places for victims of domestic violence to go for help.

The effort is part of a statewide effort break the cycle of violence in the home.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at Knoxville's Family Justice Center, currently one of only two in the state. The other is in Memphis.

The three new locations will be placed in Nashville, Cookeville and Chattanooga, providing a larger net of support for victims.

Domestic violence is a major problem in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says half of all violent crimes against persons in the state are domestic related.

More than 50,000 cases have already been reported this year.

"We rank sixth in the nation in the rate of women killed by men. We've got a serious problem that is the driving force behind a violent crime rate in our state that is far too high," said Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.

The centers serve as a safe place for victims to go, helping them break free of the violence once and for all.

"I see people walk in and be in that place of just not knowing what to do, where to turn. They sit down, they talk with someone. They walk out and think, 'I now know. I have direction in my life. I feel safer,'" said Executive Director Amy Dilworth of the Knoxville Family Justice Center, founded in 2006.

Gibbons hopes the new centers can help the state reach more victims than ever before. Many of those victims right now have nowhere to turn.

"With a coalition of partners like we have here today, I really believe that we can make a substantial difference," said District Attorney Randy York of the 13th Judicial District, which will house the new Cookeville location.

The Knoxville Family Justice Center was the first in the state and is serving as the model for the new locations.

Dilworth and her team hosted all-day training Tuesday for those who will soon operate the new centers.

Federal grant funding through the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs will fund the new statewide family justice center initiative.

The effort is a major part of Governor Haslam's Public Safety Action Plan to make Tennessee safer.

Domestic violence is down more than 10 percent from last year in Tennessee, but state leaders say there is still a long way to go.

They estimate the new centers will be open in the next two to three years.

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