Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua), Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda), members of the Assembly Minority Conference and Ramona Bantle-Fahy, crime victim survivor and advocate, today called for the passage of Ramonas Law, which would extend the maximum time for parole reconsideration with respect to certain violent felony offenses.
Ramonas Law (A.6663, Giglio) would extend the maximum number of months from 24 to 60 as the time the Parole Board must set for determination for reconsideration of denied parole applications for inmates who have been convicted of specified Class A-I and A-II felonies and Class B violent felonies. As defined in this legislation, those crimes include:
- Murder in the First Degree;
- Aggravated Murder;
- Murder in the Second Degree;
- Rape in the First Degree;
- Sodomy in the First Degree; and
- Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child
Our first and most important job as legislators is to protect the publics interest, and keeping people safe is absolutely critical to that aim. Ramonas Law would give the criminal justice system more flexibility to keep violent criminals behind bars longer and help protect victims so they do not feel as though they are being re-victimized every 24 months, said Leader Kolb. This bill would be a much-needed win for the victims of violent crime. Safety must always be our top priority, and this bill is an important step in that direction.
Ramonas Law is named after Ramona Bantle-Fahy, a survivor of a violent sexual assault in 1992. Ramona is now confronted with facing her attacker, David A. Graczyk, to testify at parole hearings every twenty-four months to ensure he stays in prison. Long after the initial attack, crime victims suffer a tremendous amount of physical and psychological trauma. Extending the length of time between hearings from two to five years would help crime victims, and their families, by sparing them from having to relive what happened to them and face their attacker on what must seem like a regular basis.
Ramona, and all other victims who must continually face their heinous aggressors over and over again, deserve so much better, said Assemblyman Giglio. The law, as it exists, is simultaneously disrespectful to victims and dangerous. Passing Ramonas Law would help reinforce that victims have a voice, too, and provide them with a sense of control over their lives and circumstances. While legislation has passed the Senate in the past, I am calling on my colleagues in the Assembly and counterparts in the Senate to take a stand for victims and pass this important bill.
Currently the law puts victims in very uncomfortable positions, and quite frankly, its unfair to expect them to relive the trauma from their attack on a cyclical basis in court. Its difficult enough for most victims on a day-to-day basis, yet forcing them to face their aggressors every two years to ensure they stay behind bars is cruel, said Assemblyman David DiPietro (R,C,I-East Aurora). Ramonas Law will help relieve some of the pressure on those who sorely deserve peace and healing and I fully support its passage.
The nightmare that crime victims and their families must endure does not end when their attacker is put behind bars. After a violent attack, their lives are forever changed, and this bill is an important and compassionate step in protecting the well-being of these victims, said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning). By extending the review period for parole consideration, victims and their families are afforded more time to heal between hearings. As legislators, anything we can do to ease the burden on crime victims and their families should be done its right and just, and its the least we can do to help ease their pain.
It is time that victims and their families had more civil rights than the prisoners. Under this legislation, violent felons would come up for parole review every 60 months versus the current 24 months, allowing the victims and the families more time to heal, said Bantle-Fahy.
According to a 2017 article published by the Robina Institute of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice, of the 35 states that grant their Parole Board the discretion to release an inmate, 25 states allow at least five years between the initial decision to deny parole and subsequent reconsiderations for release.
The Assembly Minority Conference has also proposed a number of other public protection bills. Among them are:
- Brittanys Law - The Domestic Violence Protection Act would require registration of violent felony offenders similar to the sex offender registry (A.5889, Gunther, Kolb).
- Todds Law- Would increase the punishment of a person who steals the property of an incompetent, a physically disabled or a vulnerable elderly person that is necessary for the performance of activities of daily living (A.3488, Smith).
- Claras Law- Would require hospitals and health care facilities to report incidents of sexual offense against a patient by a health care practitioner to the Department of Health and the Department of Education (A.1123, Kolb).
- Angelicas Law- Would decrease the number of prior license suspensions needed to qualify for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first and second degrees (A.6166, DeStefano).