With unanimous approval in Senate, pressure grows for the Assembly to act on Jay J’s Law this year.
Kennedy: Unanimous Senate approval of Jay J’s Law sends the message that the Assembly needs to act. This is an opportunity for the Assembly to show that they’re serious about protecting the vulnerable.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Just days after three-year-old Jay J. Bolvin and his family visited Albany to lobby the State Legislature, Jay-J’s Law (S.530/A.2623) has passed the State Senate by a unanimous vote. Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, pushed Jay-J’s Law through the Senate to help crackdown on severe and repeat child abuse. Once the bill becomes law, Kennedy believes Jay-J’s Law will serve as an important protection for children – and especially survivors of abuse – across the state.
When they were in Albany earlier this week, Jay-J and his grandfather Joseph Retzer and his Uncle Kevin and Aunt Chris Retzer met with Senators and Assembly members from all regions of New York State, especially downstate. Through their fierce advocacy, they secured commitments from several members of the Legislature. Senator Kennedy says Jay-J’s Law has been driven forward by the family’s unwavering dedication to their cause, as well as strong support from the entire Western New York delegation.
“Jay-J and his family made the trip from Buffalo to Albany to deliver a simple message: New York State needs to crackdown on child abuse and ensure people who hurt children end up behind bars for a long, long time,” said Senator Kennedy. “Their message grows even louder with the Senate’s unanimous approval of Jay-J’s Law. Now it’s up to the Assembly. They need to hear this call to action. This is an opportunity for the Assembly to show that they’re serious about protecting the vulnerable. The children of our state, survivors of abuse like Jay-J, deserve this protection from repeat abusers who seek to inflict real harm upon defenseless, young children. Jay-J is relying on us to stand up and ensure justice is served.”
“We owe Jay-J’s family our deepest gratitude for their relentless advocacy to protect the children of our state and for their commitment to helping Jay-J recover from the injuries caused by the abuse he suffered,” Kennedy added.
“Jay-J’s Law is a common-sense bill to make sure violent abusers are punished severely for hurting children. It won’t change the suffering Jay-J went through – or the struggles he faces now – but Jay-J’s Law will help protect children across New York State,” said Jay J’s Uncle Kevin Retzer. “We’re excited to have received so much support, and we appreciate the Senate moving quickly to pass the bill. This year, we need the Assembly to do their part and help protect the safety of New York’s children by passing Jay-J’s Law. We want to thank Senator Kennedy for always having our back and pushing this bill through the Senate, and thanks also to everyone across the state who has pledged their support for Jay-J’s Law.”
The focus now shifts entirely to the Assembly and urging them to take action to protect New York’s children. If the Assembly passes the measure, it will head to the Governor's desk to be signed into law. To find out how you can help, visit www.facebook.com/JusticeforJJ or www.jjslaw.info.
As an infant, Jay-J suffered severe abuse at the hands of his own father. It left Jay-J with 11 fractured bones, a severe seizure disorder and developmental delays. Essentially, a life sentence for Jay-J, but his father got off with a relatively light sentence of one-and-a-third to four years, even though it was his second conviction of child abuse. His first conviction happened outside of the three-year window in which someone can be charged with aggravated assault on a child in instances of repeat abuse.
Jay-J's Law extends that aggravated assault look-back period to 10 years, and it stiffens penalties for severe repeat abuse.
Jay-J’s Law will crackdown on repeat child abuse by enacting the following changes to the penal code:
- It amends aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old. An individual will be guilty of aggravated assault if he severely injures a child and has been previously convicted of assault or attempted assault upon a child in the preceding 10 years, instead of the current three years.
- Aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old is increased from a class E felony to a class D felony. A third child abuse conviction would make aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old a class B felony.
- In severe cases, Jay J’s Law will also allow law enforcement to charge individuals who recklessly commit serious repeat child abuse with first-degree assault, a class B felony.
A class D felony carries a maximum sentence of 7 years, while a class B felony has a maximum sentence of 25 years – far stronger penalties than what was given to Jay-J’s violent abuser.
Senator Timothy M. Kennedy represents the New York State Senate’s 63rd District, which is comprised of the town of Cheektowaga, city of Lackawanna and most of the city of Buffalo. More information is available at http://kennedy.nysenate.gov.