A unique Maricopa County program is providing an easier and safer way for victims of domestic violence to get restraining orders without walking into a courtroom, says the Arizona Republic. Since the county started a videoconferencing program last January, at least 60 domestic-violence victims have obtained orders of protection against their abusers from their hospital rooms. Typically at the end of their stay, victims hospitalized have the opportunity to request an order of protection by video.
Only three people are involved in the process. The victim is in the hospital room with a domestic-violence advocate who has been taking care of the victim throughout his or her stay. The third person is Justice of the Peace Rachel Carrillo, who sits by herself in a courtroom. The process is designed to create a safe, private space so that victims feel comfortable enough to open up about their situations. They do not have to face their abusers in a courtroom setting. The videoconferencing program has been lauded nationally as an innovative county program. It was the brainchild of Carrillo and Dena Salter, family-violence program coordinator at Maricopa Medical Center, who is one of the hospital’s four advocates for domestic-violence victims. “The victim has even more power and control over the situation than handing it over to somebody else,” Salter said of the program.