In response to the recent attempted abduction of a 17-year-old female student at Saratoga Springs High School, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R,C-Schenectady, Saratoga) today renewed his call for legislation he introduced that would increase the penalties for assaults and abductions that occur on school grounds, including nursery schools and college campuses.
The legislation is dubbed “Suzanne’s Law” in honor of Suzanne Lyall, a University at Albany student who has been missing since March 1998.
“Unlike shopping malls, neighborhood parks and recreational facilities, children are required by law to attend school, so we need to make campuses a sanctuary for learning,” stated Tedisco. “I believe that a person who assaults, rapes or abducts on school grounds is the worst kind of predator because they target the future of our state and nation. We should have stricter penalties and longer prison sentences to stop them.”
Suzanne’s Law would essentially double the sentences handed individuals who are convicted of attempting or succeeding at abducting or assaulting people while on school grounds. According to Tedisco, if the man arrested for the attempted abduction in Saratoga is convicted on the charge, current law provides for him to serve as little as 3-1/2 years, and a maximum of 15 years, in state prison. Under Tedisco’s bill, the offender would serve a minimum of 7 years and a maximum of 30 years. This bill has been approved by the state Senate each year since it was first introduced in 1999.
Lyall, the inspiration and namesake of the legislation, was last seen at UAlbany on March 2, 1998. Her parents, Mary and Doug Lyall, commented, “Without a safe and secure learning environment, it is impossible for students to receive a quality education. Schools should be seen as ‘sacred places,’ and there needs to be zero tolerance for serious criminal acts. We believe that education is our future, and students need to feel secure and safe on school grounds.”