April 23, 2015

Assembly Recognizes National Crime Victims' Rights Week

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol and Governmental Operations Committee Chair Crystal Peoples-Stokes today announced the passage of a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at improving treatment and services for crime victims. This announcement coincides with the observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of crime victims' issues. This year's theme, Engaging Communities, Empowering Victims, emphasizes the role of the entire community to reach more victims and expand their options for services.

"Crime victims and their families suffer unimaginable pain," said Speaker Heastie. "The Assembly has long advocated for legislation to enhance the rights of crime victims and the programs that support them when they are at their most vulnerable. It is our responsibility to continue to seek justice and help all New Yorkers who are tragically affected by crime."

Crime impacts individuals from all demographics. Today's bills aim to eliminate the discriminatory impact of the current laws that prevent victims and their loved ones with limited resources, delicate living situations, lack of marital status and other challenges from pursuing justice and receiving the benefits they deserve. These bills expand definitions and redefine terms to simplify certain claims processes and provide victims more protection under the law. Included measures will encourage more victims, especially those of domestic violence and sexual assault, to obtain the help they need and begin healing.

Once again, the Assembly passed the Rape is Rape bill first introduced two years ago. This bill would amend the definition of rape to include other forms of nonconsensual sexual conduct that are currently recognized by the law as "criminal sexual acts" and would remove the penetration requirement from the rape statutes. This would allow all victims who suffer the traumas of rape to get justice and ensure that all forms of sexual assault are recognized as rape (A.4959-A/Simotas).

The Crime Victims' Rights package also includes legislation that would:

"In an ideal world, these bills would not be needed, but the reality is that crime affects both individuals and our communities as a whole," said Assemblymember Lentol. "We must continue to empower crime victims and improve access to the programs available to help in the healing process."

"The theme of this year's Crime Victims' Rights Week highlights the importance of our commitment to do all in our power to help crime victims and their families. When legislators, community leaders, neighbors and friends come together, progress can be made," said Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes. "The bills passed today will help ensure that all victims have access to supportive resources and services currently available to themselves and their families."