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Senator Griffo calls on Assembly to protect domestic violence victims with ‘Brittany’s Law’

Legislation would require registration
for violent felony offenders in statewide database

ALBANY – State Senator Joseph Griffo today joined his colleagues in the New York State Senate to call upon the Assembly to pass The Domestic Violence Prevention Act known as “Brittany’s Law,” which would develop a statewide database for domestic violence offenders.

Cosponsored by Senator Griffo, “Brittany’s Law” was drafted in response to the brutal murder of 12-year-old Brittany Passalacqua, and her mother, Helen Buchel, of Geneva, N.Y. Standing alongside Brittany’s grandmothers, Dale Driscoll and Joan Tandle, and surrounded by other domestic violence victims advocates, Senator Griffo, R-Rome, joined Senator Catharine Young, R-57th District, and Senator Pam Helming, R-54th District, to announce the pending passage of Brittany’s Law in the Senate. They also urged the state Assembly to follow suit, with Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, who represents Geneva and champions the legislation in his chamber, on hand to demonstrate support.

State Senator Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, said: “People should know if the man or woman they are considering a relationship with has punched, beat or choked another person in a past crime of domestic violence. How many times must a violent abuser show they are capable of severely hurting someone before we accept that the public has the right to protect themselves from these dangerous and potentially homicidal individuals? Since violent abusers are often manipulative and effective at covering their hostile behavior until it is too late, I believe we have an obligation to create a domestic violence registry to ensure that these convicted offenders cannot hide from their aggressive pasts.”  

Brittany’s Law would require convicted domestic violence offenders to register with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services upon parole or release from incarceration, hospitalization or institutionalization. This information would then be available to the public through a registry similar to the one used for sexual offenders under Megan’s Law.

The legislation stems from the ruthless 2009 murder of Brittany Passalacqua, and her mother, Helen Buchel. The perpetrator, John Edward Brown, was a violent felon who had been released early from prison after serving only 2 ½ years of his sentence for assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Unaware of his dangerous past, Helen started dating Brown, who had only been on parole for a few months before he murdered her, and her daughter.

“The circumstances that brought on Brittany and Helen’s deaths are unacceptable,” Senator Catherine Young said. “More could and should be done to let people know about dangerous domestic violence offenders. Brittany’s Law would be a significant public protection mechanism, ensuring everyone has access to valuable information about convicted abusers, as we do for sex offenders. By having a record of where violent offenders live and keeping community members informed of criminals’ whereabouts, Brittany’s Law will undoubtedly save lives,”

Senator Young added, “It is unconscionable that the Assembly continues to stand in the way of this public safety policy. The public has a right to know and every day more people are beaten and even killed by domestic violence abusers. If these victims had access to critical information through a violent offender registry, they could know people’s pasts before they establish a relationship with someone who is dangerous. The Assembly needs to act now.”

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said: “Speaker Heastie and the Assembly Democrats must bring Brittany’s Law for a vote.  By blocking this bill, they are protecting violent criminals, instead of protecting victims of abuse.  A registry of violent felony offenders provides individuals, families and communities with information that can help save lives.  The Senate has overwhelmingly passed Brittany’s Law six times with bipartisan support, but Assembly Democrats have refused to address the scourge of domestic violence.  Their obstruction is inexplicable, irresponsible and unacceptable.”

Dale Driscoll said, “There is no bringing Helen and Brittany back, but what we can do is learn from this to protect other victims.  To continue to ignore this issue is unconscionable.”

Wayne County Sheriff Barry C. Virts said, “There is no place in our society for domestic violence. With the power of technology literately in our hands, Brittany’s Law will give people the ability to easily access information of a proven domestic violence abuser. Information from a Brittany’s Law registry would enable them to make better decisions and choices to keep themselves and their loved ones from becoming a victim of domestic abuse and violence.”

After today’s vote, the Senate will have approved the bill for seven straight years. The legislation will be sent to the Assembly, where the sponsors and advocates are hopeful it will finally be passed, especially since it matches a version of the bill already sponsored by Majority Assembly members.

ATTACHED PHOTOS: State Senator Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, speaks during a press conference in Albany on Wednesday, June 14, about the need to pass Brittany’s Law to create a statewide registry for convicted domestic violence offenders. To the left of Senator Griffo (also pictured hugging Griffo) is Dale Driscoll, whose grandaughter, 12-year-old Brittany and her mother, Helen Buchel, were killed in 2009 by John Edward Brown, who had been released from prison after serving only 2 1/2 years of his sentence for assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Unaware of his dangerous past, Helen started dating Brown, who had only been on parole for a few months before he murdered her, and her daughter.


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Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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