Alamance Co. wants to speed up 50B applications

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- A pilot program in Alamance County will aim to make it faster and easier for domestic violence victims to get protective orders.

This fall, county officials are planning to debut a new computerized process to apply for and get so-called "50B" orders.

More than 800 people in Alamance County request 50B's every year, but only about 300 make it through the current process. That's because, besides a mountain of paperwork, applicants have to make four separate stops.

The process usually starts at the Family Justice Center in Burlington, where applicants fill out a lot of paperwork.

"It takes at least an hour because the victim has to fill out exactly what happened," said Lynn Rousseau with Family Abuse Services.

Victims then have to drive a few miles to the clerk of court's office at the old courthouse in Graham. After talking with a judge, they have to go two blocks to the new courthouse. Then after that, they have to go back to the clerk's office.

Cynthia Boger said it took her a week to get a 50B filed against her ex-husband, who's in another county.

"I never knew what I was going to come home to, you know. It was fear for me and my kids," Boger said.

But Lynn Rousseau with Family Abuse Services said there aren't many people like Boger who are willing to keep going in circles at an already difficult time.

"They're overwhelmed by the paperwork," Rousseau said. "They may be fearful that he'll see them when they go between here and the clerk's office and the court and back to the clerk's office."

Cindy Brady said they hope the new process will both start and end at the Family Justice Center. Family Services would email the 50B's to the clerk of court, and the clerk will immediately get a notification.

"The email will go to the judge and say, 'There's an order for you to review. He will appear on a screen in this office here and call the victim just like he does in court, but she'll be here,'" Brady said.

The system will also notify the victim when the protective order is in place and remind them of a court hearing date before the order expires, Brady said.

The program is being funded by a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission. If the program works, the state could install the system in other counties.