When It Comes To Preventing Violence, Common Sense Goes A Long Way

The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV) has unbelievably and inexcusably issued a memo opposing the creation of potentially life-saving violent criminal registries like one that would be created under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act – commonly known as Brittany’s Law. Families and communities deserve to know if there is a violent felon living nearby, and that information is crucial for those who may be in a relationship with someone who has a history of violence.

Brittany’s Law would create a registry of violent felony offenders similar to the sex offender registry established by Megan’s Law. Brittany’s Law has passed the Senate six times with overwhelming bipartisan support. Despite Majority sponsorship in the Assembly, Brittany’s Law (A.1833, Gunther) has yet to advance to the floor for a vote. The law is named after Brittany Passalacqua, a 12-year-old girl from Geneva who was murdered in 2009, along with her mother, Helen Buchel, by a man previously incarcerated for violently assaulting his infant daughter. 
The NYSCADV’s contention the registry would be too expensive is offensive. Further, its claim that limiting registries to convicted criminals would disproportionately target minorities, while also overlooking instances of violence that went unreported, is grossly off base. Convicted, violent felons are given constitutionally mandated due process and their inclusion on a registry is a fair and appropriate extension of the criminal justice system’s purpose— to protect the people.

Lastly, the NYSCADV’s ludicrous assertion that a registry puts victims in more danger by inciting retaliation by those on the registry shows an astonishing deafness to the most basic principles of public safety, transparency and accountability. Criminals must be held responsible for their actions, and by informing those in close proximity to violent felons that there is a potentially dangerous situation afoot, we give them a necessary tool to prevent further instances of violence. The NYSCADV’s disregard for common sense and the core tenets of our justice system are frightening.
April 10 to April 16 was National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and I urge all New Yorkers to take time to reflect on the horrific emotional and physical damage that violent crime victims face. Before we debate the merits of any piece of legislation we must understand the toll violence takes. All good policy begins with empathy and compassion.
Please join me in my push to make our communities safer with legislation like Brittany’s Law. It is a practical, common-sense step toward ending violence and with the continued support of legislators from both the Assembly and Senate, both the Majority and Minority, and the people of New York who are sick of stories like Brittany’s, we can make this law.
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@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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