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New York State Senator Pamela A. Helming (R,C,I-Canandaigua) applauded the passage of Brittany's Law (S.1107), which would establish a violent felony offender registry. This legislation, which Senator Helming co-sponsors, is named after Brittany Passalacqua, who was brutally murdered along with her mother, Helen Buchel, in Geneva, NY in 2009. The man convicted of killing Brittany and her mother, John Edward Brown, was a parolee released from prison after serving only 2 ½ years of a 3-year sentence for violently assaulting his infant daughter in 2003. Senator Helming adamantly believes a violent felony offender registry will help decrease the number of domestic violence incidents in the future.

"We never expect crimes this heinous to occur in our own communities, but they do. Sadly, the system currently in place failed to protect Brittany and her mother, Helen. This registry is common sense. We have a registry for gun owners, for sex offenders, and even for those who abuse animals (in New York City), yet there is no registry to keep track of violent felons. Had there been a mechanism in place to track Brittany and Helen's killer after his early release from prison, the two of them might still be alive," Helming said. "With the passage of this critical legislation, the Senate sent a strong message that we recognize it is government's foremost responsibility to keep our families and communities safe. How many more families will endure the pain and suffering that Brittany's family has before this legislation is passed by the Assembly? The Assembly Majority needs to stop playing politics and pass Brittany's Law now, so that we may prevent a situation like what happened to Brittany and her mother from happening to others."

In a formal letter Monday Helming called on New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Monday to pass Brittany's Law (S.1107 / A.404) before the end of session. Brittany's Law, which has repeatedly passed the Senate, would establish a publicly accessible violent felony offender registry in New York State. This call-to-action comes in anticipation of Brittany's law passing the Senate later this week.

Brittany's grandmother Dale Driscoll, who has been an outspoken advocate for this legislation, said, "There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about what happened to my granddaughter Brittany. I just wish her mother had known ahead of time about the monster she was bringing into their home. While I will never get my Brittany back, passing this legislation will help ensure a situation like this does not tear apart other families in the future. It's been disheartening year after year that the Assembly has not budged in passing this important legislation, but it is my hope we can finally get this passed this year. I thank Senator Helming and Senator Young for their advocacy and leadership on our behalf and on behalf of all the families of victims shattered by the actions of violent felons."

In the wake of these violent attacks, it has been clear that there needs to be increased effort to further protect our citizens. This proposal would provide law enforcement with a valuable investigative tool in the fight against violent crimes. It also provides important information to communities regarding the whereabouts of violent felony offenders who pose a high risk of reoffending once released from custody.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has reported that on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts, who has met with Helming and Dale Driscoll on a number of occasions, 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 enables them to make better decisions and choices to keep themselves and their loved ones from becoming a victim of domestic abuse and violence."

In addition to Brittany's Law, the Senate also passed legislation sponsored by Senator Helming last week that would increase protections at domestic violence shelters. Bill S. 4311 would provide expanded protections to employees of domestic violence shelters or those seeking their services by making crimes against them to be considered assault in the second degree.

Both of these bills have been sent to the Assembly.