Tulsa County going high tech in helping victims file protective orders

Friday, July 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A protective order makes it a crime for abusers to come near their victims. But the paper work is lengthy and sometimes intimidating.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims explains how Tulsa County is trying to make the process easier. The number of protective orders filed in Oklahoma is on the rise. But experts say there are many victims who never make it to court. They say the process of getting a protective order can sometimes scare victims away.

The application is long and sometimes hard to understand. There are agencies that can help you through the process. But with the number of petitions rising, there are not enough people available to help with filling out the paperwork. So, Tulsa County is hoping a machine can help.

ICAN is an interactive computer program that will coach you through the protective order petition. The program will talk to a client in English or Spanish. And it'll even define words, if you don't understand. Mary Fitzgerald, Tulsa County case manager, "many times people show up with handwritten documents inappropriate documents that the clerk cannot file and the judge cannot understand and this will help the litigants and the court to understand what people are trying to accomplish.”

Another neat feature, the program can be accessed through the Internet. So victims can file a petition for a protective order at home or at a public library. Tulsa County will launch the system next Thursday.