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Brittany's Law seeks to create registry of violent offenders


Tue, May 19th 2015 05:50 pm

Ortt co-sponsors bill named for Central New York girl murdered in 2009

A bill co-sponsored by State Sen. Rob Ortt would help protect community members from violent crime and domestic abuse crimes by providing them access to vital information. The New York State Senate has passed The Domestic Violence Protection Act, commonly known as Brittany's Law, which would create a public registry of convicted violent felons.

Similar to a sex offender registry, the bill, S513, would establish a violent felony offender registry, allowing the state and local law enforcement to track the whereabouts of offenders on parole or released from any state or local facility, hospital or institution. The registry also would be accessible to the general public.

"Perhaps the most striking element of tragedies like Brittany's is that they're preventable," Ortt said. "New York took the necessary step of creating a sex offender registry to protect our communities. Creating a similar database and registry for violent, repeat offenders is the next logical step to inform and protect our communities. I hope my Assembly Majority colleagues will join the Senate in passing this sensible legislation that will save lives. This is especially pertinent as some liberal, downstate-driven initiatives aim to relax penalties and push offenders from correctional to community settings."

Brittany's Law is named for 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua of Geneva. A man who was on parole murdered Brittany and her mother, Helen Buchel, in November 2009. Geneva Police alleged John Edward Brown stabbed Brittany and her mother to death at their home following a domestic dispute. Brown previously was released from prison early, serving only two-and-a-half- of a three-year sentence for assaulting his infant daughter in 2003.

State senators joined Brittany's grandmothers, Dale Driscoll and Joan Tandle, in Albany Monday to call on the Assembly to pass the measure. The Senate has passed the legislation every year since 2011, but the Democrat-controlled Assembly has refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

"The murder of my daughter and granddaughter devastated our family," Driscoll said. "If this legislation prevents another family from suffering the loss we have experienced, then my daughter and granddaughter will not have died in vain. People should have the right to know if a person is a violent felon, and I will continue to do everything I can to push this measure in the State Assembly."

Under the bill, all individuals convicted of a violent felony must register with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services upon discharge, parole, or release from any state or local facility, hospital or institution. The legislation also establishes annual registration requirements for offenders to allow local law enforcement agencies and the state to monitor the whereabouts of these individuals.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.

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