Minority Demands Action on Violent Sex Crimes Legislation
|Say bills to protect women and children from predators languishing in Assembly|
Assembly Minority members were joined today by local District Attorneys and child protection advocates 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 sex predators. All the bills, except Jessica's Law, which was introduced this month, have repeatedly passed overwhelmingly in the State Senate with bipartisan support, but they have been blocked in the State Assembly.
"If I could climb to the highest mountaintop and scream at the top of my lungs I would do so if that would help. I wish that would help because when these common sense sex crime bills are blocked year after year it's exactly what I feel like doing," said Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga.) "I'm not saying the Speaker is siding with the bad guys, I just think he truly believes the laws are tough enough already. They aren't."
Tedisco pointed out that there were only 13 legislative days left in the 2006 session and said his Minority conference is demanding action before they break for the summer on the following bills:
Civil Confinement. First introduced by Assembly Minority 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 Chairman of the Codes Committee, Assemblyman Lentol, but still it has been blocked.
Tedisco said if the Majority members continue to block the bills, his conference would offer them as amendments attached to other bills in the next couple weeks and urge their colleagues on the other side of the aisle to buck their leadership and vote their conscience.
"Since 1993, Assembly Minority members have proposed civil confinement of the most dangerous sex offenders," said Assemblyman David G. McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick), Co-Chair of the Assembly Minority SAVE-NY Task Force. "The State Senate has repeatedly passed it by overwhelming margins, but thus far, the Assembly Majority only offered an extremely watered-down measure earlier this year. The number of people who fall victim to repeat sex offenders will only increase until we pass real civil confinement legislation."
"We must do everything we can to protect children from dangerous pedophiles, molesters and rapists," said Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,C,I,WF-East Northport). "The families of New York are demanding action immediately and if the Assembly Majority members drag their feet they will have to answer for their inaction in November."
"The Legislature has a duty to protect the people of the State of New York," said Patricia A. DeAngelis, Rensselaer County District Attorney. "These measures will give law enforcement the tools they need to solve crimes, keep criminals off the streets, and protect our communities from violent sexual predators."
Kim Talman, New York State Chair of the National Association to Protect Children, said, "How can we ask our children to be brave enough to stand up and report sexual abuse when our elected leaders are too afraid to stand up to Speaker Sheldon Silver?"
"There is absolutely no downside to expansion of the DNA Database," said Kate Hogan, Warren County District Attorney. "It will help us solve crimes more quickly, holding the perpetrators accountable, and will exonerate anyone who hasn't committed a crime."
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