Blocking Domestic Violence Bills Defies Common Sense
In recent weeks, the Assembly Majority Conference blocked several efforts to improve protections for victims of domestic violence. The common-sense proposals from members of the Assembly Minority are designed to ensure victims of domestic violence have adequate legal avenues to report cases of violence and to appropriately punish criminals who engage in these horrific acts.
The Assembly Minority Conference worked tirelessly to craft these bills after creating a Task Force on Preventing Domestic Violence and an accompanying report, “A Safe Haven: Helping Abuse Victims and Enhancing Protections.” In the United States, one in four women will experience domestic violence. Roughly 20 people are abused by intimate partners every minute – which amounts to more than 10 million cases annually. This is not the time or the topic on which to play political games.
OBSTRUCTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE MEASURES HURTS FAMILIES
Inaction from the Assembly Majority is bad enough. But actively blocking bills that were developed with careful consideration from domestic violence victims, law enforcement and experts is simply inexcusable. Recent activity by majority members in various committees has prevented necessary protections from moving forward.
- The Committee on Children and Families blocked “Melinda’s Law” (A.9725, Giglio), which provides greater protections for victims to report domestic violence without fear of losing custody of their children. Melinda’s Law was inspired by a woman who endured more than 20 years of physical and psychological abuse by her husband. When Melinda tried to report the abuse to authorities, her husband warned that if she did, Child Protective Services would take the children from her. Current law does not adequately protect the interests of victims of domestic violence.
- The Judiciary Committee blocked a number of other important measures including bills to allow Family Courts to issue temporary spousal support relating to orders of protection and child support (A.8836), consolidate court proceedings to streamline domestic violence cases (A.9551) and hold employers accountable for failing to abide by court-mandated wage garnishments in child support cases (A.9724).
- The Social Services Committee rejected legislation that would allow for three 45-day extensions to the time allowable in an emergency shelter for domestic violence victims (A.9883). Current law requires shelter services for 90 days, with only two 45-day extensions that can be granted beyond the 90-day period.
- The Codes Committee opposed two bills (A.8810/A.8842) that would increase penalties related to domestic violence crimes.
ASSEMBLY CONTINUES TO IGNORE BRITTANY’S LAW
On Wednesday, Brittany’s Law overwhelmingly passed in the Senate for the eighth time. The bill would create a registry of violent criminals similar to the state’s sex offender registry. It was inspired by Brittany Passalaqua, who was only 12 years old when she and her mother, Helen Buchel, were murdered in 2009. Their killer, John Edward Brown, was on parole following his incarceration for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Had Helen been able to access information about Brown’s violent past, this tragedy could have been avoided.
Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, the bill has yet to see the light of day on the Assembly Floor. It feels an awful lot like playing politics at the expense of New Yorkers’ safety. I am calling on the Assembly to immediately take up these potentially lifesaving bills. Good policy must prevail when it comes to the well-being of New Yorkers.
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