Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) helped pass a package of bills that would increase aid and assistance for crime victims and their families to better allow them to rebuild their lives. The passage of these bills recognizes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which falls on April 21-27 this year.
“Sadly, each year, countless New Yorkers fall victim to devastating crimes, leaving many families struggling to pick up the pieces in the aftermath,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “This legislative package would provide assistance to the victims and their families in the wake of tragedy.”
Easing the financial burden on victims and their families
The legislative package includes a measure that would expand eligibility for compensation from the Crime Victims Board (A.4024). This bill would allow individuals with significant long-term relationships with homicide victims to be eligible for compensation from the Crime Victims Board for actual out-of-pocket losses and counseling expenses.
“The emotional impact on those who have lost a loved one due to criminal violence is unthinkable,” Thiele said. “Ensuring they have a support system to regain some sense of normalcy is critical. This legislation would provide surviving family members with the financial aid and counseling they need to pull through such a terrible time.”
In addition, the Assembly passed a measure that would allow courts to direct all or a portion of a certain fines and civil penalties to the Office of Victim Services (A.5386). The fines, known as antitrust fines, would then be used to help fund essential programs that help victims regain control over their finances and get back on their feet, Thiele added.
Combating human trafficking
Also included in the package of bills is a measure that would increase the number of times the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking convenes each year, requiring at least three meetings per year and annual reporting (A.5538-A). The task force is charged with curbing the illegal sale of people for the purposes of sex or work. Among the responsibilities of the task force is recommending interagency protocols for training and outreach to law enforcement and service providers, gathering data on the number of victims and evaluating approaches to increase public awareness about trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a deeply disturbing criminal practice that can be very difficult to detect because of traffickers’ ability to hide their victims from public view,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “By increasing the frequency of task force meetings each year, we can work on modifying protocols to help law enforcement crack down on these criminals and save more lives.”
Making sure victims’ needs are met
Lastly, the Assembly passed a measure that would change the reporting requirements pertaining to restitution and fair treatment standards for the Office of Victim Services to allow for a more thorough analysis of the manner in which crime victims’ needs are met (A.5388). Their reporting requirements would be changed from annual to every two years and would require information collected by probation departments relating to victim impact statements to be included in the biennial report.
“By conducting a more thorough analysis of the impact on victims, we can better address their concerns and make sure they have the services they need to recover and rebuild their lives,” Assemblyman Thiele said.