Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua) and Senator Mike Nozzolio (R,C,I-Fayette) today joined colleagues from both houses of the Legislature to call for the Assembly to pass Brittany’s Law. The law would create a registry of violent felony offenders, similar to the sex offender registry created under Megan’s Law. Brittany’s Law has advanced in the Senate in each of the last four years, and passed by a 54-5 vote on May 12.
“The time to pass Brittany’s Law is now,” Leader Kolb said. “A registry of violent offenders saves lives, prevents crimes and makes our neighborhoods safer. This is common-sense legislation that has moved through the Senate and has bipartisan support in the Assembly. This should be passed by the end of the legislative session. Victims of violent crimes have waited far too long for the Assembly to act.”
Brittany’s Law is named after Brittany Passalacqua, a 12-year-old girl who was murdered in 2009 along with her mother, Helen Buchel, in Geneva, New York. The two victims were killed by John Edward Brown, who was on parole after serving time in prison for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Ms. Buchel was unaware of Brown’s violent history. Had a registry of violent offenders been in place this tragic crime, and hundreds of others across the state, could have been avoided.
“Brittany’s Law represents a major step forward for our State in the fight against violent crime. By putting measures in place for law enforcement to track violent offenders and keeping our communities informed of their whereabouts, Brittany’s Law will save lives,” said Senator Nozzolio. “All we need now for the violent offender registry to become a reality is for the State Assembly to adopt Brittany’s Law. New York State currently requires all convicted sex offenders to register with the State and keeps track of those individuals. It makes no sense that we do not do the same for those who commit violent felony crimes against our citizens. We cannot continue to put innocent New Yorkers at risk.”
Leader Kolb and Senator Nozzolio were joined at the press conference by Dale Driscoll and Joan Tandle, grandmothers of Brittany Passalacqua, Ontario County Supervisor Greg Bendzlowicz, the lead investigator and arresting officer in the 2009 crimes and Martha Bailey of the Victim Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. Under Brittany’s Law, violent felony offenders would be required to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services within 10 days upon release from a prison or hospital, re-register annually and within 10 days of any change of address.
Studies have repeatedly shown that violent felony offenders are likely to repeat violent crimes when released from prison. According to the Urban Institute of Justice Policy Center in Washington, D.C.. violent offenders have the highest recidivism rate with 53 percent of male offenders and 39 percent of female offenders being re-incarcerated.
A New York State Department of Correctional Services’ study, 2009 Inmate Releases: Three Year Post Release Follow-Up, found that violent felony offenders were most likely to return at a rate of 43 percent. Passage of Brittany’s Law will provide law enforcement a valuable aid and an investigative tool to better protect our constituents, communities, neighbors and families from violent felony offenders. At least eight other states have established some type of registry for certain violent felony offenders, including: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Oklahoma.
Leader Kolb has been a co-sponsor of Brittany’s Law since it was introduced in the Assembly in 2011. He has worked diligently alongside and family members of Brittany Passalacqua to advance this critical public safety initiative. The Brittany’s Law bill (A.8916, Gunther, Kolb) remains in the Assembly Correction Committee.