The new “Address Confidentiality Program” allows victims of domestic violence to keep their residential addresses confidential by substituting the address of the Secretary of State’s Office. Betty McEntire, the program’s first Executive Director, explains how the program works.
Ted Simons: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And Arizona has a new way to help protect abuse victims. It's called the Address Confidentiality Program and it lets victims of domestic violence use the Arizona Secretary of State's office as their mailing address. Here with more on the program is its new Executive Director Betty McIntyre, the former training coordinator for the Arizona Coalition against Domestic Violence. Good to have you here, thank you so much for joining us. A better definition of this particular program.
Betty McEntire: This program will do -- actually you have two functions. One provides a substitute mailing address as you stated- the secretary of state's office. And the second component is a mail forwarding service. It's another layer of a safety plan for victims of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking.
Ted Simons: And I guess all of those factors come into play when you don't change your address. You are where you always were.
Betty McEntire: One of the key aspects of this program once it's up and running will be about victims of those crimes who are being stalked by their perpetrator. Needing to relocate to a new address. The program is not going work if you stay in the home in which your perpetrator knows where you live, it kind of defeats the purpose of limiting your ability to be found.
Ted Simons: Sure.
Betty McEntire: So it's protecting all your public records by utilizing that mailing address. Instead of putting your real address of where you actually live you would put the designated substitute address.
Ted Simons: Abuse victims can get the secretary of state's office as basically mail forwarded there? How long does this last?
Betty McEntire: Once we start enrolling participants, all potential applicants need to apply through what we're calling an application assistant, a specialized trained domestic violence or sexual violence advocate who understands the safety measures of that victimization. And then once they apply and are certified into our program, we will provide them their substitute address, that participant will go and write out their address on any application or any information asking for a residential work or school address. Any mail that will be sent to a normal physical location like your home, if you are a participant, instead of your mail going to your house, it would come to me first. I would forward that mail back to your real address. No one knows your address for myself.
Ted Simons: So it's not a bunch of folks standing in line at secretary of state's office trying to pick up their mail?
Betty McEntire: No, not at all. I will be the only person who knows your real address.
Ted Simons: How much is this expected to cost the state?
Betty McEntire: We are anticipating our program to be fairly small due to the fact that all of our budgets are estimated off the $50 fine that will be levied against persons convicted under certain statutory offenses like domestic violence and stalking.
Ted Simons: So the $50 assessment goes to this particular program?
Betty McEntire: Correct. If you're convicted of let's say 133601, a domestic violence statute, it's a tax statute. If you are convicted the judge will order an additional fine of $50. $45 of that comes to my program to facilitate and pay for the postage, envelopes, mailing, and 5% to the Clerk of the Court for administrating the funds.
Ted Simons: This was passed by the legislature this last session, correct?
Betty McEntire: Correct. It was signed into law April 19th by the governor.
Ted Simons: Are there other states doing this? Is it a model somewhere else that you looked at and said, "Hey, this isn't a bad idea?"
Betty McEntire: Yes, we're the 27th state to have a full address confidentiality program. Ours was particularly modeled after the Colorado address confidentiality program. Washington state, for example, theirs has been around for 20 years doing that. There's a variety of states doing this.
Ted Simons: Time to get on the ball and figure this thing out.
Betty McEntire: That's right. We're really happy that the state legislature and the Governor passed and signed it into law.
Ted Simons: What are your duties now as the program's very first executive director?
Betty McEntire: Right now we're meeting with the state and local government entities impacted by this address confidentiality program. Once everyone is informed about the program, we'll go and we will be training applicant assistants across the state. Once that all happens it's going to be the day-to-day monitoring of receiving mail, forwarding the mail. It'll be our commitment that there's only a slight delay. So mail in, mail out, same day. So no one's impacted by being involved in this program.
Ted Simons: You represent the secretary state's office in domestic violence and domestic abuse cases in general, correct?
Betty McEntire: I will be serving as a representative to the domestic violence and sexual assault community through the secretary of state's office so being able to sit on the task force and the committees.
Ted Simons: How can this program make a real difference for domestic violence victims?
Betty McEntire: That's actually a really great question. One of the things that's very important for anyone thinking about enrolling in any address confidentiality program is understanding its limitations. This is not a catch-all, be-all program. We can't do that, especially in this day and age of technology. But if we can limit, if the participant can limit the ability of having their physical address placed on Google Maps, and it's the secretary of state's office, then it's going prevent we hope an abuser from stalking them and causing further harm. It's another tool for their tool chest.
Ted Simons: You mentioned how folks would enroll in this and kind of move down the chain, down the line. Can folks currently enroll in this program?
Betty McEntire: Not at this point. We are hoping to get it open for business by spring of next year.
Ted Simons: All right.
Betty McEntire: That is our goal.
Ted Simons: Until then we've got a website up there. If you go to the website you can get more information on this. If you are thinking about some sort of action in the future, making a move in the future go, to the website and write the website down, bookmark it, whatever you've got to do, because then the information will come out.
Betty McEntire: I would actually encourage anyone looking at this to not bookmark it quite yet. For safety reasons.
Ted Simons: I gotcha, boy you really have to think about this don't you?
Betty McEntire: Memorize the address and we can get you connected with advocates.
Ted Simons: You have quite a bit of background in this issue, don't you?
Betty McEntire: 15 years.
Ted Simons: Good thing for Arizona?
Betty McEntire: I think it's a great thing.
Ted Simons: Good to have you.
Betty McEntire: Thank you very much.
Betty McEntire : First Executive Director,Address Confidentiality Program