April 27, 2009

Assembly Marks 25th Annual National Crime Victims Week with Legislative Action
Comprehensive multi-bill package emphasizes victims' rights and services

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Governmental Operations Committee Chair RoAnn Destito today announced that the house passed a legislative package today aimed at improving treatment and services for crime victims. The ten legislative measures were considered in conjunction with a national public awareness week for remembrance, reflection and re-commitment for crime victims, taking place April 26-May 2, 2009.

Silver noted that while the bulk of the package would be on the floor this week in commemoration of National Crime Victims Week, at least one bill is expected to be considered in the coming weeks.

"The Assembly has a long tradition of providing needed services for crime victims and their families. On the 25th anniversary of this national awareness week, we are demonstrating our understanding that crime victims' pain and suffering continues long after the actual crime has been committed," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "This package supports their recovery with the immediate and long-term assistance they need to move on with their lives."

"This year, on the anniversary of the Victims of Crime Act, we celebrate 25 years of rebuilding lives. Once again, this is a week to turn our focus toward justice for victims and away from the perpetrators," said Destito (D-Rome). "The Assembly Majority has always been a strong advocate for helping victims with available knowledge, education and resources. Through this legislative package we reaffirm our commitment to providing necessary tools for individuals to get through this painful process."

Provisions of the package focus on improving knowledge, training and resources of New York State's Crime Victims Board (CVB), law enforcement and court officials who deal with crime victims. These measures would:

One bill aimed at reducing financial hardships for crime victims, A.6532A, sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn), makes crime victims eligible for reimbursement for transportation costs for necessary appearances, while another highlights the difficulty that victims of sexual assault face in overcoming barriers to self-sufficiency. Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), is sponsoring a bill (A.3378) to allow these victims to receive information about locally available services for sexual assault victims and to protect such victims from further harm.

Another bill improves the care provided to victims through improved sexual assault training (A.4629B). Sponsored by Assembly Member Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn), the measure would require standards for proactive training for child protective workers regarding sexual abuse and for police officers regarding sexual assault. This bill would build on previously enacted landmark legislation, the Sex Offenders Registration Act (Megan's Law).

Destito added that she is also sponsoring legislation (A.1380) to reduce administrative red tape by changing the reporting requirements relative to restitution and fair-treatment standards from annual to every two years, and (A.529) which establishes a civil remedy for victims of hate crimes related violence or intimidation. Another sponsored by Destito, (A.521) establishes a crime victim's ombudsman and provides for such functions, powers and duties toestablish an advocate for crime victims in State government.

"This package of bills responds to specific and repeated concerns voiced by crime victims in New York State. We are unable to erase the pain and suffering many victims continue to feel, but we must ensure laws and support programs are in place to address their needs. We are committed to keeping this issue a top priority and to raising public awareness about the rights and needs of crime victims," concluded Silver.