Raia, Assembly Minority Members Demand Action On Violent Sex Crimes Legislation

Bills to protect women and children from predators linger in Assembly
May 22, 2006

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF) joined by NYS Chairperson of the National Association to Protect Children Kim Talman (right), and his Assembly minority colleagues to demand Speaker Silver to allow a vote on five critical legislative bills aimed at protecting women and children from violent sexual predators.

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport) today was joined by his Assembly minority colleagues, local District Attorneys and Kim Talman, NYS Chairperson of the National Association to Protect Children, to demand Speaker Sheldon Silver allow a fair up or down vote on five critical legislative bills aimed at protecting women and children from violent sexual predators. The bills deal with increasing prison sentences for rapists and child molesters and giving prosecutors more tools to protect women and children from violent predators. All the bills, except “Jessica's Law,” which was introduced this month, have repeatedly passed overwhelmingly in the state Senate with bi-partisan support, but they have been blocked in the state Assembly.

“We are fed up with the Assembly Majority’s unwillingness to protect children from the evils of sexual predators,” said Raia. “For example, by expanding the DNA database, we will use it as a tool to convict criminals and to exonerate the innocent. This vital bill has been bottled up since the late 1990’s and its just one example of the common sense bills we are promoting today. They cannot continue to be blocked year after year.”

Raia noted that there were only 13 legislative days left in the 2006 session and said his minority conference is demanding action on the following bills before they break for the summer.

  • Civil Confinement - First introduced by Assembly minority members in 1993 and passed nine times by the Senate, the bill would allow for the civil confinement of certain sexually violent predators determined by psychiatrists, a court finding and a unanimous jury to have a mental abnormality and likely to re-offend. Majority members finally introduced their own bill this year but it is considered a watered-down measure that makes it nearly impossible for an offender to be civilly confined. Under their bill, a sexually violent predator, after 2 jury verdicts, can still be released back into the community. The issue is currently in conference committee between both houses and they have yet to come up with a compromise.
  • DNA Expansion- Passed repeatedly in the Senate and bottled-up in the Assembly Codes Committee since the late 1990s, the bill would expand the highly successful DNA database requiring ALL convicted criminals to submit a DNA sample.
  • Jessica's Law - Introduced in the Senate on May 2nd of this year and modeled after the Florida Law, this bill would require a minimum 25-year prison sentence for first-time child rapists and significantly increase prison sentences for other predatory sex offenses.
  • Statute of Limitations Reform - Passed repeatedly in the Senate but blocked in the Assembly, this bill would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for all class B violent felonies and extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children. Majority members finally passed a similar bill this year but included a civil statute of limitations which many consider a "poison pill." Minority members say the two bills should be taken up separately.
  • Reform Incest Law - Passed unanimously in the state Senate this year, this bill would create the crime of incest in the first, second and third degrees. Currently, prosecutors may elect to pursue a class E non-violent felony if the rape victim is a relative. This bill actually is sponsored in the Assembly by the Chairman of the Codes Committee, Assemblyman Lentol, but still it has been blocked.

"We must do everything we can to protect children from dangerous pedophiles, molesters and rapists," concluded Raia. "The families of New York are demanding action immediately and if Assembly majority members drag their feet they will have to answer for their inaction in November."