In recognition of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) helped pass several measures to increase aid and assistance for crime victims and their families to better allow them to rebuild their lives. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 22-28 this year.
“Sadly, each year countless New Yorkers fall victim to crime leaving them feeling vulnerable and causing great disruption to their lives,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “It’s vital that we protect these victims and their families from further harm and provide them with vital assistance and resources. That’s why I helped pass this legislative package to provide financial aid, protection and advocacy for crime victims.”
Protecting victims from further harm
The legislative package includes a bill that would authorize courts to revoke the firearms licenses and seize the weapons of individuals who have been ordered to treatment or committed to a mental health facility (A.3081). Currently, state law does not allow the court to seize firearms and revoke firearm licenses from these individuals.
“It’s essential that we work to make our communities a safer place for East End families to live, and this measure would do just that,” Thiele said. “Keeping guns out of the hands of people who may not be capable of safely owning them is a commonsense safety measure.”
Easing financial hardships for family members of crime victims
In addition, the Assembly passed a measure that would expand eligibility for compensation from the Crime Victims Board (A.3592). This bill would allow individuals maintaining significant and 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.
“For many who have lost loved ones from an act of criminal violence, their lives are changed forever,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “By expanding compensation coverage, we can make sure that those suffering through such a difficult time have the support they need to try to recover.”
The Assembly also passed legislation that would:
- ensure all records of parole interviews for sex offenders are transmitted to the Office of Mental Health for review by the civil commitment case review panel (A.8917);
- change the reporting requirements pertaining to restitution and fair treatment standards for the Office of Victim Services from annual to every two years and consolidate reporting requirements regarding victims services programs, allowing for a more thorough analysis of the manner in which crime victims’ needs are met (A.9025); and
- allow the courts to direct antitrust fines to be paid to the Office of Victim Services, putting more funds into the programs that help victims (A.9028).
“By passing these crucial pieces of legislation, we are strengthening protections for crime victims and helping to provide the important services they need to recover and rebuild their lives,” Thiele said.
The Assembly expects to pass legislation shortly that would require the New York State Office of Victim Services to provide financial assistance for HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (A.669-C). This legislation would enable sexual assault victims, who have undergone a forensic rape exam, and who are found to be at risk for HIV/AIDS, to receive a seven-day starter pack of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis treatment. After the initial starter pack is provided and with the consent of the victim, the emergency room department would be required to provide or arrange for medical follow up related to the HIV PEP treatment.