Each Step Toward Preventing Domestic Violence Helps Save Lives

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua)
May 31, 2019

The mental and emotional toll domestic violence takes on an individual is pervasive, and too often, lingers years or longer after it occurs. It’s a societal scourge that wreaks havoc on families and communities, and it is the responsibility of lawmakers to do everything within their power to support victims and prevent future incidences. The New York State Assembly Minority Conference vehemently supports legislation toward those ends.

Our Conference hosted a series of regional task force forums around New York state to address domestic violence in our communities. With the input of those dealing with the issue first-hand—victims, advocates and law enforcement—we generated a list of legislative solutions we believe lays out a comprehensive and achievable plan. Our report, Helping Abuse Victims and Enhancing Protections, enumerates our strategy to prevent violence and support victims.

BRITTANY’S LAW CAN HELP SAVE LIVES

Recently, the Assembly passed a number of bills geared toward helping victims of domestic violence including measures to strengthen insurance, housing and workplace protections for victims. And, while these provisions are a good step in the right direction, there is so much more we can, and should, be doing to prevent domestic violence. Our Conference offered three amendments I believe would go a long way toward helping mitigate the horrors of domestic violence. Inexplicably, our counterparts in the Assembly Majority blocked these measures. Those provisions included:

  • Enacting Brittany’s Law (A.6732), which would create a violent-felony offender registry;
  • Extending the effective dates of Orders of Protection for two additional years in extreme cases (A.5740); and
  • Providing a harsher penalty for intentionally committing an act of domestic violence in the presence of a child (A.5751).

I am honored to have originally introduced Brittany’s Law; 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.

Further, as steadfast advocates for victims of crime, and to help ease the trauma associated with being victimized, our Conference has also pushed for the passage of Ramona’s Law, (A.6663, Giglio). It would extend the maximum number of months from 24 to 60 the Parole Board must set for reconsideration of denied applications for certain inmates convicted of violent felonies. No victim trying to heal should be forced to constantly confront their aggressor as they come up for parole consideration.

THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS

The statistics surrounding domestic violence are staggering. According to information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in the U.S.:

  • On average, almost 20 people each minute are physically abused by a partner. That means more than 10 million men and women each year are abused.
  • Intimate partner violence represents 15 percent of all violent crimes.
  • Only 1 in 3 victims seek medical care for their injuries.

These numbers are sickening, and the widespread intrusion of domestic violence must be curbed with all available legislative ability. We have made great progress, but more must be done. The only acceptable amount of domestic violence is zero. Join me in helping to bring that goal to reality.

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 or email me at kolbb@nyassembly.gov.