We Need Brittany’s Law

SEN. Pamela Helming

October 19, 2018

Earlier this year, for the eighth year in a row, the New York State Senate passed Brittany’s Law. This critically important legislation would establish a violent felony offender registry. It would require violent felony offenders to register upon their release and allow the public to access certain information about them. Once again, the Senate has passed Brittany’s Law so that we can protect our citizens from violent felony offenders and prevent tragedies from occurring in our communities. And once again, we are waiting for the Assembly Majority and the Governor to take action and put this critical measure up for a vote. The Assembly Majority and the Governor claim they support victims of domestic violence, yet year after year, they fail to take this one concrete step to help victims. But I refuse to give up this fight to support our victims.

Brittany’s Law is named after 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua, who was brutally murdered along with her mother, 34-year-old Helen Buchel, in Geneva in 2009. The man convicted of killing Brittany and her mother, John Edward Brown, was a parolee released from prison after serving only 2½ years of a 3-year sentence for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. If Helen and her family had access to a violent offender registry and knew that her boyfriend was a violent convict, then she and Brittany might be alive today. That is why Dale Driscoll, Brittany’s grandmother, tirelessly strives to enact this important legislation that will save lives.

By putting measures in place for law enforcement to track violent offenders and keeping our communities informed of their whereabouts, Brittany’s Law will save lives and prevent future tragedies from happening. We have a registry for sex offenders, and even – in New York City – for those who abuse animals, yet there is no registry to keep track of violent felons. Those convicted of sex crimes must register, so a similar system for those convicted of violent crimes just makes sense. In fact, registries for domestic violence and sex offenders could be combined.

All we need now for the violent offender registry to become a reality is for the Assembly to join the Senate in adopting Brittany’s Law and for the Governor to sign it into law. If the Assembly has specific objections to the proposed law, they should share them with us so we can move forward – or is this just another example of downstate politicians choosing violent offenders over victims?

It is time for the agencies and organizations who care for our victims and their families to publicly support Brittany’s Law. Let’s join together and send a message to the Assembly and the Governor that we need Brittany’s Law.

Please sign the petition below and join the fight to ensure New Yorkers have the right to know when violent offenders are living in our communities.

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