NASHVILLE — The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved Senate Bill 513 — “Safe Space for Victims: Grant Program.”

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile, R-Gallatin, on behalf of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. The companion House Bill, HB744 sponsored by Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, will be considered by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee in coming weeks.

The bill establishes a grant to provide one-time funding for county governments across Tennessee to provide a safe, secure waiting area for crime victims to wait for hearings or trials and meetings with attorneys and counselors.

“Victims’ rights are a top priority of District Attorneys General statewide,” said Jimmy Dunn, District Attorney General of the Fourth Judicial District.

“We must ensure that the criminal justice system always treats victims fairly and with dignity. Currently, victims must wait in crowded courthouses in close contact with those who have victimized them. This is especially traumatic for child victims and victims of domestic and sexual assault. I support the Safe Space Bill, because it ensures that victims can safely and securely participate in the criminal justice system.”

Counties interested in receiving funding will be able to apply to the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference for a $5,000 grant. Counties that do receive the funding will be required to provide a 25% match, which can come from in-kind donations.

“It is an honor to champion this cause for victims and to fight side by side with our state’s elected District Attorneys on this important piece of legislation,” Rep. Curcio said. “It’s efforts like this grant program that show the rest of the country how much Tennessee cares about the needs of victims.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with our District Attorneys to pass legislation to provide a safe and secure place for these brave victims to await their court hearings,” Sen. Haile said. “I am very encouraged by the support within the General Assembly for this legislation to benefit victims of crime.”