Crime Victims’ Rights Week a Time of Reflection, Action

April 7 to April 13 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. Each year, the Office for Victims of Crime helps raise awareness of the struggles victims and their families face, and helps coordinate observances, outreach and support for those in need.
 
This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future,” and will celebrate the progress of victims while looking ahead at services that are “even more inclusive, accessible, and trauma-informed.” Consulting their NCVRW Resource Guide and supporting their awards ceremony are great ways to participate in the week-long awareness campaign.
 
The Assembly Minority Conference stands with those who have had to deal with mental, physical and emotional ramifications of crime. Personally, I have fought hard in recent years for Brittany’s Law, which would create a registry of violent felons. Two related bills, A.6732 and A.5889, the latter of which has a Senate companion, have garnered strong bi-partisan momentum.
 
I am proud to have originally introduced legislation named after Brittany Passalacqua, who was 12 years old when she and her mother, Helen Buchel, were murdered in 2009. Their killer, John Edward Brown, was on parole after serving time in prison for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. With information about Brown's past, the tragedy could have been prevented.
 
CHANGES TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM DEEMED ‘UNWORKABLE’
 
While there has been tremendous progress on Brittany’s Law and other initiatives to protect victims of crime, the recently passed budget includes some highly questionable new provisions that do just the opposite. The new budget severely restricts cash bail for most charges, imposes harsh new deadlines in the discovery phase of criminal proceedings and puts enormous pressure on prosecutors to hit deadlines.
 
Prosecutors have come out against these changes and criticized the Legislature for ignoring their views. The president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, David Soares, called the changes “unrealistic” and “unworkable.”
 
Prior to the budget, lawmakers and the governor passed legislation giving free computer tablets to inmates, proposed pay raises for prisoners working in jail, paroled a cop killerand pardoned felons so they can vote earlier than their sentence dictated. It is not a stretch to say New York does not have its priorities in order; as victims, like Brittany, are ignored while criminals continue to enjoy more and more freedoms.
 
New York state has an incredible Crime Victims Memorial located in Albany, where the names of victims of crime are forever etched into the fabric of our landscape in the form of personalized bricks. It is my sincere hope that the efforts of all those participating in National Crime Victims' Rights Week can ensure this memorial doesn’t grow any larger. No family should have to be subjected to reading a loved one’s name in such a way.
 
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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