Honoring National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol and Governmental Operations Committee Chair Steve Englebright today announced the passage of a comprehensive set of legislation aimed at improving treatment and services for crime victims. In addition to these measures, the Assembly passed a resolution commemorating the week of April 6-12, 2014 as Crime Victims' Rights Week in New York (K1018, Lupardo).
"Every crime victim deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and compassion as they focus on healing in the aftermath of the terrible crimes committed against them," Speaker Silver said. "As elected officials, we can do our part to restore justice by proactively strengthening New York's response to the needs of crime victims. Improving access to the supportive resources and services currently available will help these tragically affected men, women and children begin rebuilding their lives."
No victim of domestic violence or other person threatened with a crime in New York should be afraid to access police or emergency assistance for fear of jeopardizing their housing situation. Unfortunately, this remains an egregious and pervasive concern of many crime victims. To address this, legislation was passed to establish the right of tenants to call police or emergency assistance without fear of losing their homes as the result of landlord actions or local nuisance laws (A.9056/Lavine).
Additional measures included in the Crime Victims' Rights package would:
Later in the legislative session, the Assembly expects to take up legislation to strengthen the Campus Safety Act by clearly requiring all violent felonies and missing persons to be reported to local law enforcement no more than 24 hours after it is reported to a college or university (A.2089/Braunstein).
Additionally, the Assembly expects to take up a measure later in the legislative session that was passed last year adding other forms of sexual assault, specifically oral and anal sexual conduct, to the current definition of rape so that no victim of sexual assault feels that they are any less of a victim based on the name of a crime. The bill also removes the requirement that penetration be proven to establish a rape charge, which is consistent with the definitions in other sexual assault crimes (A.3339-A/Simotas).
"Even though we may not be able to comprehend the pain and suffering that many of these victims are enduring, we can empower crime victims and keep them and their loved ones safe in times of transition and uncertainty," Lentol said. "This package of bills helps to do just that and builds on legislation the Assembly has long advocated for to enhance the rights of crime victims here in New York."
"National Crime Victims' Rights week affords us the opportunity to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by crime victims and bring awareness to the many services and supportive programs available to them to help in the healing and rebuilding process," Englebright said. "The measures included in today's package aid victims in the aftermath of a crime by making it easier for them to access needed resources and protect families from retribution as a result of reporting a crime."